The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

the bridge home bookcoverViji and her sister, Rukku, whose developmental disability makes her overly trusting and vulnerable to the perils of the world, run away. Life on the streets of the teeming city of Chennai, India is harsh for girls considered outcasts, but the sisters manage to find shelter on an abandoned bridge. There they befriend Muthi and Arul, two boys in a similar predicament, and the four children bond together and form a family of soauthor padma venkatramanrts. Viji starts working with the boys scavenging in trash heaps while Rukku makes bead necklaces, and they buy food with what little money they earn. They are often hungry and scared but they have each other; and Kutti, the best dog ever. Unfortunately with the rainy season comes the threat of illness. As the unthinkable happens and some of the children fall ill, Viji must decide whether to risk going for help; when most adults in their lives have proven themselves untrustworthy, or to continue holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

While this story is a bit of a tear-jerker, it will leave you feeling inspired and grateful for all that you have. Fleeing an abusive home to life of sorting through trash for pennies is a tough situation that most adults could not handle, let alone two young girls. Regardless of their troubles, the journey brings two sisters closer then ever, and it teaches them than familes can be chosen. The author states this is not her own story but the stories of several children she has worked with over the years. She does a beautiful job of weaving various real stories into this one heartfelt story.

Check out these other great middle grade books:

Other words for home bookcoverThe Moon Within bookcoverA good kind of trouble bookcoverthey call me guero bookcover