the bridge home - cover


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

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. 




“[This novel] tackles sisterhood, chosen families, and loss… Craftwise, the book is thoughtful: Venkatraman employs the second person throughout as Viji writes to Rukku, and readers will ultimately understand that Viji is processing her grief by writing their story. Viji’s narration is vivid and sensory; moonlight “slip[s] past the rusty iron bars on our window”; “the taste of half an orange…last[s] and last[s].” The novel also touches on social justice issues such as caste, child labor, and poverty elegantly, without sacrificing narrative. A blisteringly beautiful book.” –  Starred Review, Kirkus


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“Flowing free verse tells the story of a teenage dancer in Chennai, India, who loses a leg and re-learns how to dance… Venkatraman weaves together several themes so elegantly that they become one… The fluid first-person verse uses figurative speech sparingly, so when it appears—“A bucket of gold melting from the sky”—it packs a punch… Veda’s no disabled saint; awkwardness and jealousy receive spot-on portrayals … A beautiful integration of art, religion, compassion and connection.” – Starred Review, Kirkus


“In Venkatraman’s delectably scented, sensual world, lyrically told through verse and through Veda, life is illuminated as a beautiful celebration of doing what comes naturally, as best as one is able…Venkatraman deftly shapes readers’ comprehension of physical ability into a new arc of understanding. …” – Starred review, Booklist

“The descriptions of contemporary India are beautiful and Venkatraman weaves images so divine that you can see the statues of Shiva, hear the ankle bells in the bharatanatyam dance, and smell the acrid scent of burnt rubber from the accident. Told in verse, this story is magnificently strong as Veda’s determination dances off the page and into the reader’s heart.” – Starred review, VOYA

“This exceptional novel, told entirely in verse, captures beautifully the emotions of a girl forced to deal with a number of challenges and how she overcomes them on her way to becoming a confident young woman. It is sure to appeal to readers who are also trying to find their place in the world.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

“The novel effectively conveys the depth of Veda’s love for her art, making her initial loss of dance emotionally wrenching and her return to it triumphant. The language is lilting and rhythmic, especially in the descriptions of dance, and the sensory elements evocatively describe the sights and sounds of Veda’s rich Indian surroundings. Her existential ponderings, as she attempts to figure out and make peace with her new reality, are woven seamlessly into the tale, and her moments of jealousy and rage are presented honestly. Heart- achingly hopeful and beautifully written, this story will remain with readers long after the final line of verse.” – Starred Review, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Brief lines, powerful images, and motifs of sound communicate Veda’s difficult struggle to accept her changed body” – The Horn Book

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

“Sure to go on my favorites list…will definitely dance its way through your heart as it did mine.” – Denver Post


“Loved this book” – Newsday

“dazzles & delights…beautifully written” – Providence Journal

* Starred review, BCCB * Starred Review, Booklist * Starred Review, Kirkus
* Starred Review, SLJ * Starred Review, VOYA *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) finalist
* 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



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“…Venkatraman makes a memorable debut with this lushly evoked novel set in India during World War II…More than a feisty Cinderella story …this novel 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, Publishers Weekly

“…In her first novel, Venkatraman paints an intricate and convincing backdrop of a conservative Brahmin home in a time of change…”- Starred review, Carolyn Phelan, Booklist

“…Opening with the festival of Krishna Jayanthi, Venkatraman so skillfully weaves Hindu words, traditions, and religious festivals into her story that readers understand the vocabulary and appreciate the beliefs…Vidya achieves the psychological distance to ponder cultural and religious similarities and differences by way of her philosophically minded appa and her Jewish best friend…With a delightfully strong female protagonist who struggles between tradition and the values she holds dear, this novel will capture the imaginations of many readers…”- Starred review, Cynthia Winfield, VOYA

“…Climbing the Stairs is the coming-of-age story of a young feminist who witnesses both violence and peaceful resistance in India during the WWII era…Venkatraman achieved her goal of interweaving threads of Indian culture, diverse religious beliefs, feminism, war and peace into a compelling story…”- Lynda Brill Comerford, Publishers Weekly, “Flying Start”

“British-occupied India during World War II is the setting for this impressive debut novel…. Thought-provoking and deeply moving.”- Booksense, Notable Citation

“Climbing the Stairs… is a passionate story…In the novel, books serve as a saving grace…The central theme of the novel, violence and nonviolence, will appeal to an international audience… “- Michelle Reale, India Currents

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

 * Starred Review, VOYA * Starred Review, Booklist *Starred Review Publishers Weekly
* 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 * *PASLA (Pennysylvania School Library Association) Top 40 * Publishers Weekly Flying Start * Shortlisted for ME Book Award * Shortlisted for UT Book Award * Shortlisted for SC Book Award * Shortlisted for NJ Book Award * Shortlisted for Reading Across RI



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“a lovely novel… offering an enticing blend of mystic tradition and imaginative speculation, Venkatraman movingly expresses a primitive tribe’s connection to nature and their struggle to find safety in the 21st century” – PW, Starred Review

“[Venkatraman] … succeeds spectacularly… Uido is a remarkable heroine … as infused with spirituality as this novel is, there is also heart-stopping action … the larger issues of modernity versus tradition offer much to think about… an intricate yet wholly accessible story” – Booklist, Starred Review

“Vividly written and expertly paced … a moving story that will stay with readers long after the end” – SLJ, Starred Review

“consistenly engrosses… refreshingly hopeful and beautifully written” – Kirkus, Starred Review

* Starred Review, Kirkus * Starred Review, Booklist * Starred Review, School Library Journal * Starred Review, Publishers Weekly * Winner, SANOC/South Asia Book Award * Winner, Paterson Prize * ALA BBYA * ALA Amelia Bloomer List Selection * Kirkus BBYA * * Booklsit Editor’s Choice BBYA * CCBC Best Book * Crystal Kite (New England) Finalist * Julia Ward Howe (Boston Authors Club) Honor Book (Finalist)