The Fortunate Child
by Archana Mishra
Trafford Publishing

"She [Rohini] would stare at the ceiling for transportation, and believed that dreams were not what she saw while sleeping but what didn't let her sleep."

Rohini dreams of becoming like Baba, her deceased paternal grandfather—the eminent Brahmin who was trying "to change some of the uncharitable characteristics of his community." With a first-granddaughter status, she is regarded as precious, valued, and revered. But because of her stubborn determination to go against the Indian caste system, she is paradoxically punished violently by her father. Besides being a victim of abuse, Rohini is unsure if her dreams of helping the underprivileged with educational opportunities are even possible when she learns that her infallible Baba has skeletons in his closet.

First-time author Archana Mishra spins a tale that is more nonfiction than not. Written in third person, Mishra's narrative captures the starkly contrasting lifestyles of Bokaro, Narayanpur, and Mumbai while unfurling Rohini's struggle for freedom amid dysfunctional environs. Mishra adroitly juxtaposes the oppressive role of woman, especially in the life of servitude, with the portrayal of one girl whose only resolve is to change the world.

Clearly, Mishra has created a dynamic character. Learning through life's struggles, Rohini, the principal protagonist, eventually blossoms into "a confident young woman, better learned and toughened." Though she is surrounded by a number of supportive characters, there are very pointed antagonists Rohini needs to face before reaching her goal. Aside of her father's vicious outbursts, she has her manipulative mother to deal with, a cynical uncle and her so-called friend Seema, who is always more than happy to give unsolicited advice. Replete with themes of family relationships and love, Mishra's debut novel is a mix of charm and poignancy. The Fortunate Child is indeed a must read for young and older adults.

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