Born Behind Bars

The author of the award-winning The Bridge Home brings readers another gripping novel set in Chennai, India, featuring a boy who’s unexpectedly released into the world after spending his whole life in jail with his mom.

Kabir has been in jail since the day he was born, because his mom is serving time for a crime she didn’t commit. He’s never met his dad, so the only family he’s got are their cellmates, and the only place he feels the least bit free is in the classroom, where his kind teacher regales him with stories of the wonders of the outside world. Then one day a new warden arrives and announces Kabir is too old to stay. He gets handed over to a long-lost “uncle” who unfortunately turns out to be a fraud, and intends to sell Kabir. So Kabir does the only thing he can–run away as fast as his legs will take him. How does a boy with nowhere to go and no connections make his way? Fortunately, he befriends Rani, another street kid, and she takes him under her wing. But plotting their next move is hard–and fraught with danger–in a world that cares little for homeless, low caste children. This is not the world Kabir dreamed of–but he’s discovered he’s not the type to give up. Kabir is ready to show the world that he–and his mother–deserve a place in it.

Read an excerpt from BORN BEHIND BARS

A Junior Library Guild Selection

“A gritty story filled with hope and idealism.” * Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“The Bridge Home and Born Behind Bars are both so beautiful and powerful. Padma is one of my favorite authors.” Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor winning author

“Hope. Resilience. Verisimilitude. That’s what we’ve learned to expect from all of Padma’s books, and it’s true of her heartfelt Born Behind Bars… a powerful story… I won’t give away the ending, of course, but I will say that those who loved The Bridge Home will be thrilled to see the appearance of a character from that book in Born Behind Bars. Brava, Padma, and thank you for another un-put-downable book!” Kathryn Erskine, National Book Award winning author

“Venkatraman has written a heartwarming tale of friendship and family ties that is sure to enthrall readers as well as remind them that justice should be fought for, and relationships should be nurtured, no matter where you live.” Saadia Faruqui, Author and Interfaith Activist

“Filled with memorable characters, this emotional story will bring empathy and cultural awareness to upper elementary/middle-grade readers; the short chapters will provide a good read-aloud for teachers, librarians, and parents.” Lesley Roessing, Educator

“Venkatraman (The Bridge Home) renders the gripping circumstances surrounding Kabir and Rani’s journey with a keen attention to character and plot, making for an immersive reading experience.” – Publishers Weekly

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