A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The life of village women in India is not the same as that of most women in the United States. The reader may question the difference. One girl talks of running off with an outlaw; one teenage male defies his royal father and outdated tradition by leaving
Violence & Scariness
A band of robbers is heard shooting. A girl is carried off by the outlaw she loves. Characters fear violence; a tiger carries off two children; a tiger attacks an elephant driver. Deaths during a cyclone; the protagonist's father is crushed by elephants.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Young romance without sex.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the minute details introduce American readers to India's complex system of social levels. Principles of Hinduism (simply explained) pervade in this well-written story.
Is It Any Good?
The slow and descriptive literary rhythm of this meditative story line captures mature readers. Suzanne Staples' main character, Parvati, faces young adulthood in a way that feels familiar to many young readers. Is friendship and love more important than self-realization? Must a girl make sacrifices to learn her art?
Staples is known for her meticulous research: She lived in India for four years and returned there to finish the book. Her stories are so dense and her descriptions so involving, some readers may give up -- but the author does provide a useful glossary. SHIVA'S FIRE is most gripping in its tense scenes of the cyclone destruction and of a tiger's attack. The author often builds drama in a way that unnerves the reader for many pages.
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