• Parents Magazine Book Club Pick
  • Boston Globe Best Book 2021
  • SLJ Best Book 2021
  • Kirkus Best Book 2021
  • John Schu & Travis Jonkers Top 20 Books of 2021
  • ProjectLIT selection
  • NerdyBookClubAward Nominee
  • India Currents BBYA 2021
  •  Junior Library Guild Selection
  •  “…compelling novel… evocative details…full of action. A gritty story filled with hope and idealism.”  Starred Review, Kirkus
  •  “An optimistic and earnest tale of the power of hope and the gift of family in all forms.” Starred Review, Booklist
  • “authentic…heartfelt…resonant… well-rounded” Starred Review, SLJ 
  • “confidently stripped down, crystalline style…Borrowing elements of fable” – NYT Book Review 
  • “capable of making a grown person cry” – Providence Journal

Buy Born Behind Bars

  • FiveStarswithQuotesBridgeHome

Oliver Twist meets Slum Dog Milionaire in this tale of four  determined homeless children who make a life for themselves on the streets of an Indian city.

“A blisteringly beautiful book”  – * Starred Review, Kirkus

“Exquisitely narrated”  – * Starred Review, PW

“Stellar” – * Starred Review, School Library Journal

“A story that must be shared”  – * Starred Review, School Library Connection

“Absorbing” – * Starred Review, Booklist

“Moving…conveys the details of life shared by many of the world’s children…an excellent story” – * Starred Review, Sound Commentary

“Venkatraman brings love, support, and humor to a story undergirded by tough issues. Curricular connections abound, including science, global studies, and ecology. A smart addition to any middle school library.” – * Starred Review, Audio, SLJ

“Gorgeous storytelling” – New York Times Book Review

“Love and loss, desperation and dreams meet in this beautifully rendered tale, both harrowing and heartening.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“An amazing book” – Newsday

“will break hearts and inspire activist longings” – BCCB

“this bittersweet novel is about breaking the cycle of abuse, reaching for your dreams and finding home in the most unlikely of people and places” – Horn Book

Audiophile Earphone Award Winner

Winner, WNDB Walter Dean Myers Award for young readers

Winner, SCBWI Golden Kite Award for middle grade fiction

Winner, Paterson Prize for young people

Winner, Nerdy Book Award

Global Read Aloud, 2019

Malka Penn Award Honor Book

Cybil Awards Finalist

TX Bluebonnet Award Nominee 20-21

FL Sunshine State Children’s Choice Award Nominee 20-21

VA Reader’s Choice Award Nominee 20-21

KY Bluegrass Award Nominee 20-21

MN Youth Reading Maud Hart Lovelace Award Nominee 20-21

WSRA Wisconsin State Reading Association Award Nominee 20-21

ALA Notable Book

ALSC Notable Audiobook

Notable Book for a Global Society (ILA NGBS)

Kirkus Best MG Bks 2019

NYPL Best 2019

Chicago Public Library Best Bks 2019

Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Bks 2019

Washington Post Best Bks 2019

Mighty Girl Best Bks 2019

SLJ Top 10 Audio Bks 2019

Bklist Editor’s Choice Best Audio 2019

Jr Library Guild audio selection

CSMCL Best Bks 2019

GoodReads Best MG Bks 2019

Washington Post KidPost Summer Reading Selection

ProjectLIT, 2019-20

Ebony Teach Best Books 2019

Betsy Bird’s 31 MG titles in SLJ

Mighty Girl pick

Today Show


Watch Trailer

Listen to the first chapter in the author’s voice

Free stuff 


“Spiritually uplifting” – Starred review, Booklist

magnificently strong” – Starred review, VOYA

exceptional” – Starred Review, SLJ

“beautiful” – Starred Review, Kirkus

“Heart- achingly hopeful and beautifully written.” – Starred Review, BCCB

“powerful depiction of a teen girl struggling to recover from an accident”                           – Chicago Tribune

“Sure to go on my favorites list” – Denver Post

“Loved this book” – Newsday

“dazzles & delights…beautifully written” – Providence Journal

ALA Notable

ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults (BBYA)

Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Book for Young Adults

Booklist Top 10 art book for youth

Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choice

Crystal Kite (New England) Finalist

Center for the study of multicultural literature (CSML) Best Book

Forever literary top 10 character driven books

Eliot Rosewater (IN) masterlist

IBBY Outstanding book for young people with disabilities

Indienext (summer) selection

IRA Notable Book for a Global Society (NBGS)

Julia Ward Howe Boston Authors Club honor book

Kirkus Best Book for Young Adults

Mighty Girl Best Books of the Year

New York Public Library Top 25

New York City Reads (#NYC365)

Nutmeg Award (CT) masterlist

Rebecca Caudill (IL) masterlist

Red dot award winner (3rd place, Singapore children’s choice)

Sequoyah (OK) masterlist

Sanoc/SABA Finalist


Watch Trailer

Free stuff 


“vivifies a unique era and culture as it movingly expresses how love and hope can blossom even under the most dismal of circumstances” – Starred review, PW                                    

“an intricate and convincing backdrop of a conservative Brahmin home in a time of change”– Starred review, Booklist

“will capture the imaginations of many readers”- Starred review, VOYA

“a compelling story”- Lynda Brill Comerford, Publishers Weekly, “Flying Start”

“Thought-provoking and deeply moving.”- Booksense, Notable Citation

“will appeal to an international audience”- Michelle Reale, India Currents

“ [A] fine, often heart-breaking novel”- Sam Coale, The Providence Sunday Journal

Winner, BAC Julia Ward Howe award

Winner, ASTAL RI Book of the Year award

ALA Best Book for Young Adults (BBYA)

ALA/ Amelia Bloomer List Selection

Bank Street College of Education Best Book

Booklinks Best New Book

Booksense Notable

Booklist Editor’s Choice, BBYA

Capitol Choice

CCBC Choice

Cybil awards finalist

Children’s Literature Network Top 25

NCSS/CBC Notable

NYPL Best Book

Pennsylvania School Library Association (PASLA) Top-40

Publishers Weekly Flying Start

Shortlisted for ME Student Book Award

Shortlisted for UT Beyhive Book Award

Shortlisted for SC Children’s Book Award

Shortlisted for NJ Garden State Book Award

Shortlisted for Reading Across Rhode Island


Watch Trailer


Free Stuff 

“enticing blend of mystic tradition & imaginative speculation” – Starred review, PW                     

“succeeds spectacularly” – Starred review, Booklist                                          

“Vividly written and expertly paced” – SLJ, Starred Review

“consistenly engrosses” – Kirkus, Starred Review

Winner, SANOC/South Asia Book Award

Winner, Paterson Prize


ALA/Amelia Bloomer List Selection

Kirkus Best Book for Young Adults

Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Book for Young Adults

CCBC Best Book

Crystal Kite New England, Finalist

Julia Ward Howe Boston Authors Club, Finalist


Watch Trailer

Free stuff