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Neela: Victory Song (Girls of Many Lands)

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  856 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
As her old sister is about to marry, 12-year-old Neela Sen knows her parents will soon arrange a betrothal for her. But when her father goes to Calcutta to secretly investigate India's growing independence movement and doesn't return, Neela realizes she must do the unexpected--take matters into her own hands. Illustrations.
Hardcover, 196 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by American Girl Publishing Inc
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Community Reviews

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It is completely bizarre that this book is part of the American Girl merchandise empire. The content is so far beyond their cutesy "history". Not that I haven't bought a ton of their books for my nieces when they were younger, as well as a doll or two etc. HOWEVER. Their stories are generally speaking easements of real history. This novel, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, is much less so. It's still aimed at the 12 to 14 year old audience, but it carries a lot of freight.

The setting is near Calcu
Meadow Frisbie
Jan 24, 2010 Meadow Frisbie rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-girl
Neela is from India. Here sister is married of and her father went to fight for India’s independence telling Neela not to tell her mother. When she hears that hundreds were imprisoned or killed she sets of with her friend Samar to find her father if he is still alive.

Love this series. The books bring you back in time, and the dolls that come with the book are so detailed. Beautiful.
Jaclyn Marie
May 27, 2016 Jaclyn Marie rated it really liked it
Note: I’ve always been fascinated by India and its culture, though my formal education about it has been sparse. This book helped to reveal once more the ignorance of my cultural education as a child and the whitewashed revision of history that so many children are subjected to. While in school, we always were taught of the glory of the British empire, “The sun never sets on the British empire,” blah blah blah. In short, we learned that imperialism is grand! Never did we discuss the devastation ...more
Aug 04, 2015 Carson rated it it was amazing
I read this in the fourth grade while my mom was in a meeting. I read it cover to cover that day. This series is vastly different from American Girl. First of all, only one of the girls featured is American and this series deals with grittier subject matter. Instead of Molly having a victory garden and talking a little about a war, some of the girls in the Girls of Many Lands series are involved in a war happening in their own country or neighborhood.

I was impressed by the way there seemed to be
Simran Khurana
Jan 03, 2015 Simran Khurana rated it did not like it
The first thing I liked about this book was that it was relatively thin. "Ah, a book I can finish in a couple of sittings," I thought to myself, when I picked this book. A light read, Neela Victory Song is a refreshing tale of a young girl from the 40's when the Indian Independence movement was gaining momentum. Written from the perspective of a young teenager, this book whisks you away into the rustic world when things were a lot simpler. (And Goodreads did not exist! :)
I wouldn't say that the
Kiran Watwani
Apr 10, 2016 Kiran Watwani rated it really liked it
The copy I have wasn't published as part of the Series GoodReads mentions. I just read it to understand what Indian fiction is available for young people these days.

It is lovely. Urban school children in India have been ready for books like this one for many many years now, since my own childhood in fact. Books that are well written, carry historical context, and allow imagination. Fearless, respectful Leela could be our own Nancy Drew - inspiring action in little girls and normalizing it for l
Sarah Crawford
Feb 26, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really interesting book. I was already familiar with the move towards independence, typified by Gandhi who stressed non-violent protests. This novel puts the entire movement in perspective by focusing on the events surrounding a typical young Indian village girl.

There are some very good additional pages added about the actual history of that time in India, along with a very useful glossary of various Indian terms.

Gandhi's non-violent approach influenced Martin Luther King in his strugg
May 05, 2014 Ujwals rated it it was amazing
I thought that this was a great book. This was my historical fiction project book, and it took me some time to find a book that interested me. I liked the book because I could connect with the events in the book; revolving around the Indian freedom struggle. I liked how the author had sensory details that captured the culture and mood of the time. I also liked that the author did not show the controversial events (such as early marriage) negatively. Overall, I think this is a great and realistic ...more
Jun 09, 2012 Tasia rated it really liked it
Though most of the adventure is fueled by amazing luck, it's a great story to introduce young readers to India's fight for independence. I also can't help but notice that almost all the books in this series have a very defining moment where the main character goes "Oh! Look at me! I look so much older in these clothes! Am I really that pretty?" Gets a bit cliché, but I suppose most young girls have that moment.
Jul 22, 2008 Carolynne rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
Neela finds herself caught between the village traditions of India and her sympathy with the freedom fighters who seek to free India from British rule in 1939. When her father disappears she risks her life and reputation to try to find him.
Beautiful descriptions of traditional Indian wedding. I felt the subplot about the potential marriage her mother has arranged for 12 year old Neela was left unresolved. I'd like to know what happened later!
Sunita Venkatachalam
So I'm a fan of Chitra (having read her Palace of Illusions) and I picked up this kid lit because the idea of the story appealed to me - a brave young girl in pre-independence era.
I liked the story, but I'm not completely sure I liked the tone of the book - I felt it was talking down a little to its purported 10+ audience.

My 8 year old enjoyed but then again some of the content may be a bit mature for that age group so I wouldn't recommend it to an 8+ either.

Jul 14, 2015 Kaetlyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
I like that at the beginning Neela's sister is getting married. I like how Neela saves her father from being killed, and how a girl that helped Neela wanted to help get her father back. I like how Neela painted her fathers face with makeup, and made his face look like he had chicken pox. I didn't like that Neela's father was sent to jail.
I really enjoyed this and would like to read more of the "Girls of Many Lands" series. I found I was very ignorant of India's history - I should probably be embarrassed to admit I didn't realize it was ever under British rule. I learned a lot about India's fight for freedom and felt the history was presented rather objectively. Neela is a very strong female character.
Feb 07, 2010 Mecque rated it really liked it
I read all of the books in Girls of Many Lands series when they came out about eight years ago. Neela's story is just as thrilling and pretty as I remember. A quick and exciting story, with several interesting characters. Neela and Samar are characters I would like to meet in real life. The Indian independence movement see through the eyes of a thoughtful and brave young girl.
Carolyn Tye
Apr 01, 2016 Carolyn Tye rated it liked it
This is a good book to show middle schoolers the culture of India, what India was like during the latter days of British rule, and the differing factions who desired independence. It is an easy read and highly informative. Parents should note that there is much mention of Hindu practices and gods and goddesses of that religion.
Shaeley Santiago
Feb 01, 2011 Shaeley Santiago rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
Neela questions the traditional practice of arranged marriage as her older sister marries. Before long, Neela is questioning much more about the role of women and Indian freedom from British rule as her father goes off to Calcutta to participate in a freedom march.
though the book is supposed to be for kids, 8+, I liked reading it, hadnt had the privilege of reading it at the apt age. The story is linked to Indian freedom struggle and is through the eyes of Neela, a young girl.
Sep 30, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
I learned a lot about India's revolution that I did not already knew (I went in knowing about zero). I liked the book, but didn't love it. I suppose American history is more interesting to me.
Ritah Nakyeyune
The Character of this girl in this book is amazzing at her age in an era of war she gets onto a train to go and rescue her baba.It was an act of heroism.
Sep 01, 2014 Renee rated it it was ok
I remember not being impressed with this book, though I did appreciate the history, and I did last through it. A nice story and a pretty good read.
Mar 27, 2014 Meghan rated it liked it
Shelves: american-girl
The other books in this series are narrated in first person and this one was third person. Not one of the most interesting historical events in my opinion but still important.
Jul 19, 2016 Rachelle rated it really liked it
Great insight into the Indian struggle British imperialism and the different views (peaceful resistance and violent resistance). Great reading for 10+.
Jun 08, 2008 Haley rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any girl who loves reading!
I learned that Neela is a twelve year old girl. Who has a

lot of spunk and bravery.. Well in my opinon she has got

alot of it.........
Meredith Henning
Feb 25, 2010 Meredith Henning rated it really liked it
Nov 06, 2008 Yashna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone that likes different cultures
Recommended to Yashna by: no one, i bought it
its about a girl that lives when india is fighting for independence against the british but her and her family run into some problems so she goes on an adventure to solve them...hurry up and read it!
Jul 07, 2011 Meg rated it really liked it
India 9is fighting for their independence, and Neela really wants to help. Will she? And if she does, what will she do?
Jun 10, 2011 C rated it really liked it
Recommended to C by: Laura C
Shelves: young-adult
Read aloud w/10yo. Our first of these books. Recommended by a friend who said she didn't like most of these American Girl books, but liked this one. We liked it.
Michelle White
I liked this book and how it talked about Indian culture and put us in the perspective of the young girl, Neela. I got it from the IUS Library.
May 27, 2016 Tova rated it it was amazing
This book is really great! It gave me as a young person, a chance look into the culture and how cultures collide and some people take sides with the shifts while others stay strictly to the past.
I know I read this book, but that was over ten years ago, so I'm going to hold off on my rating until I find where my copies of the Girls of Many Lands book went!
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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. Her work is widely known, as she has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 ...more
More about Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni...

Other Books in the Series

Girls of Many Lands (8 books)
  • Isabel: Taking Wing (Girls of Many Lands, England)
  • Cecile: Gates of Gold (Girls of Many Lands, France)
  • Leyla: The Black Tulip
  • Saba: Under the Hyena's Foot (Girls of Many Lands, Ethiopia)
  • Spring Pearl: The Last Flower (Girls of Many Lands, China)
  • Minuk: Ashes in the Pathway
  • Kathleen: The Celtic Knot

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