The Letter to Lahore by Tanu Shree Singh
Review,  Historical Fiction,  Middle Grade

The Letter to Lahore by Tanu Shree Singh – Indian historical fiction

The Letter to Lahore is well-written, captivating, and courageous middle-grade Indian historical fiction featuring the unsung tale of heroes of freedom struggle.

Indian historical fiction The Letter to Lahore

The Letter to Lahore (Songs of Freedom series) by Tanu Shree Singh

Publication Date : August 15, 2023

Publisher : Duckbill

Read Date : August 5, 2023

Genre : Middle-grade / Historical fiction

Pages : 128

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclaimer – Many thanks to publisher for review copy.
This post contains affiliate links.

Synopsis

When Dak Chacha comes to visit, Luxmi feels only joy and excitement. But this time, there is something dark underfoot-Chacha is worried and there are policemen coming to search their house.

Luxmi learns that both Dak Chacha and her mother are involved-in their own small ways-in the struggle for liberation from the unjust laws and practices that the British regime forces on all of them. This makes her determined to be part of it too. Even if that means undertaking a risky mission which no one else is able to do . . .

The Songs of Freedom series explores the lives of children across India during the struggle for independence.

Review

The Letter to Lahore is courageous and captivating Indian historical fiction featuring tale of unsung heroes, one of the books in the “Songs of Freedom series” that follows the journey of three children who gets involves and motivated to be part of India’s freedom struggle.

Luxmi, her twin brother Bhola, and their cousin, Umesh are excited about the visit of their uncle, Padam, who is a postman and so they all call him Dak Chacha. But this time things are different, they notice their uncle is anxious and worried and they soon learn why.

He is carrying an article that he needs to deliver to a freedom fighter, Samuel Evans Stokes, to be published in the newspaper but sipahis (policemen working for British officers) are suspicious about him being involved. When they come looking for him at their home he has to run, entrusting the letter to kids to deliver it to Simla to a man who would deliver it to Stokes. But they are just kids and they never ventured outside the village alone. It was interesting to see how they were going to figure out their way and if they will deliver the article in time.

Writing is easy and engrossing, written in third person narrative. The setting of Sarchi, 1921 takes back to the time period when education is very rare, kids are married at a young age, people are stuck in the cast system and begar system, and India’s freedom struggle has surged with the non-cooperation movement on the news of Prince of Wales’ visit to India. (this actually was mentioned in notes, not within the story)

Whenever there is mention of freedom fighters I have seen names like Ghandhi, Nehru, Bhagat Singh, Sardar Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, and such big names but I never heard about Samuel Evans Stokes before this book. It was interesting to read how this American got involved in social reforms and freedom struggle by publishing articles in newspapers about the British government’s discriminatory treatment towards Indians, and it’s one of these articles kids were carrying to deliver in Simla. (mentioned in notes)

There is a theme and layers of fighting against the begar system, courage, caste discrimination, dreams, women’s position in a patriarchal society, and what true independence means to innocent kids.

All three kids are lovely. I loved Luxmi. She is brave, talkative, smart, and wants to go to school. She is observant and curious kid who quickly catches the zeal of freedom from her uncle and could see the unfairness of Begar system around her. She had complex relationship with her mother but it was lovely to see how it was dealt in such short book. Her emotions are touching.

I loved her bond with Bhola and Umesh. Bhola rarely speaks and has no hair (it might be alopecia areata but any cause wasn’t mentioned in the book) who by the end of the book shows more courage and learns to speak more to save his sister. Umesh is a scaredy cat and can’t live without food but he too showed courage by supporting the twins and staying with them throughout the journey.

These kids turned out real heroes of the story. Even though the kids were fictional there were real people like these kids who played a small part in the freedom struggle in their own way.

The journey is my favorite part in the book. Along with the growth in kids and their courageous actions, it gives a glimpse into the life of people living in Himachal Pradesh in the time when there weren’t roads and how people walked winding treks for days to trade for food.

Climax is tense and like kids, I was a little disappointed with how the receiver of the letter acted. It was very wise of Luxmi to see things in a positive light in the end. End is lovely and uplifting.

Why 4 stars-

I wish the author had included more about Samuel Evans Stokes within the story and I wouldn’t have to google him. If I as an adult don’t know anything about him I’m sure kids need a little more basic information than “an American who introduced apple in India”.

Overall, The Letter to Lahore is captivating, courageous, and well-written Indian historical fiction unsung tale of heroes of freedom struggle.

[Here is a little about Samuel Evans Stokes I found by searching through the internet- He came to India in 1904 to work at a leper colony and soon got respect among Indian and married an Indian girl. Around 1915 her brought Apple Tree to India and later he got involved in the freedom struggle. He got the honor of being the only American to become a member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) of the Indian National Congress.]

Book Links

Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. β€œYou can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

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