Tracey's Reviews > Small Acts of Amazing Courage

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
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's review
Oct 05, 11

bookshelves: abandoned, mocknewbery, teen
Read in October, 2011

Teen fiction; historic fiction (India, 1908). I was not immediately impressed by the writing, laden as it was with multiple commas, sentences that ran on, and the simple observations of a pretty dull 15-year-old (adding more commas does not make you a complex character!). As the English daughter of a soldier off at war, Rosalind has led a sheltered life in India--though to her parents' dismay she keeps in touch with her childhood Indian friend and makes frequent excursions to the marketplace. Since several people have named the book as a Newbery hopeful, I made myself read at least the first 50 pages to let the story develop, and sure enough--on page 46 she rescues an untouchable baby from a cruel man who would have crippled the child to make a more plaintive beggar. For a few pages she is this struggling teen who is suddenly a caretaker of an infant; she must figure out how to clothe, feed, and keep him from being discovered by the servants and her family. Two days later she gives the babe to her new friend's orphanage (I don't know why it took her so long to think of it; the solution should have been obvious), and she immediately goes back to being a dull girl, albeit one with an equally dull, if somewhat more informed, love interest.

The story definitely suffers from Rosalind's weak voice--even considering the culture and time period she's from and the relatively sheltered childhood, she still sounds like a naive 10-year-old than a thinking, feeling 15-year-old. Maybe the story really does turn out to be amazing at the end, after Gandhi makes his appearance and Rosalind has her awakening or whatever, but it would be 10x better if the characters were stronger, sharper, and better developed.
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