3.93 (2,031 ratings by Goodreads)
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For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. With the darkness of night as cover, they flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family until school starts, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer.

But Gopal has been deceived. There is no factory, just a small, stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded frames for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. In this atmosphere of distrust and isolation, locked in a rundown building in an unknown part of the city, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again.

But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys' key to holding on to their sense of self and their hope for any kind of future. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop--and they might even find a way to escape.
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Product details

  • 9-12
  • Hardback | 316 pages
  • 144.78 x 213.36 x 30.48mm | 408.23g
  • HarperCollins
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0061857602
  • 9780061857607
  • 798,084

Review quote

With echoes of the Lost Boys in Nancy Farmer s The House of the Scorpion and even Slumdog Millionaire, this a tightly woven tale of a boy s will to survive, the power of story and the bond of friends tied together in the hope of a better day.--BookPage"
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Rating details

2,031 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 32% (643)
4 40% (810)
3 21% (423)
2 5% (103)
1 3% (52)

Our customer reviews

In BOYS WITHOUT NAMES, author Kashmira Sheth takes readers into the world of child labor and exposes the unbearable conditions and incredible horrors suffered by millions of children around the world. Economic conditions drive Gopal and his family from their tiny village into life in the city of Mumbai. Their trip from village to city is complicated by lack of money and difficulty with the language. Gopal, his mother, and his twin brother and sister are forced to live for several days on the street when Gopal\'s father goes in search of the uncle who was supposed to meet them at the train station. Not able to read directions and street signs, Gopal\'s father is lost, leaving the remaining family to struggle on without him. When they finally find him, Uncle Jama is able to provide food and shelter for them while he begins the search for Gopal\'s missing father. Gopal attempts to look for ways to earn money and help out. One day he meets a boy who promises work if Gopal will follow him immediately. Gopal is drugged and taken to a sweatshop, where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded picture frames by a cruel boss Gopal names Scar. The boys work long hours, are given very little food, and are able to bathe only once a week. Their days and nights are spent breathing toxic glue fumes in a poorly lit, stuffy attic. At first they work quietly, each dreaming of returning to families they miss, but as the weeks and months pass, Gopal begins to tell the group stories to pass the time and soon the others add stories of their own. All the while, Gopal plots his escape. The idea of leaving becomes more complicated as the six boys become like a family. How can all of them manage to gain their freedom from under Scar\'s watchful eyes and locked doors? BOYS WITHOUT NAMES is a story of survival and the determination not to give up even when facing insurmountable odds. Readers will be inspired by the courage and stamina of the six young boys as they endure terrible living conditions as well as physical and emotional abuse. Little more than slaves, they still remain hopeful that they will someday be reunited with family and more
by TeensReadToo
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