Thirst

 
4.3 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
871 0
Thirst
Author(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
July 19, 2022
ISBN
978-0593354391
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Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity—an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night. Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Things the US Takes for Granted
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Minni lives with her father, who runs a tea stand, her mother, who cleans house for a well-to-do family, and her older brother Sanjay, who at fifteen has graduated from tenth grade and taken a job doing food prep in a restaurant. Their neighborhood is poor, and the dwellings close together. They don't have running water, but have to haul it from a central location every day. When the children are out one night with a relative who has a new car, Sanjay and his friend Amit get out of the car and see men stealing water from tanks brought in to help alleviate the shortages in communities like theirs. Unfortunately, they are seen by Ravi, and there is concern that Ravi will turn the boys over to his boss and get them into trouble. To avoid this water mafia, the boys are sent to the country to help grandparents on a farm. Minni's mother is ill; she has been ill before, and the doctors said it was from not consistently boiling the water. She has blood tests, and it is decided that she needs to go back to her village, where she can stay with relatives and really get some rest. Minni, who goes to school because Anita Ma'am, the woman for whom her mother works, has generously paid her tuition, is going to take over her mother's job, cleaning and making rotis for Anita and her daughter, Pinky. Pinky is very interested in Minni and wants to be friends, but her grandmother is always finding fault with Minni's work, and it's not worth angering her and losing her job. It's hard to pick up the extra work that her mother is not at home to do, work a job, and keep up with school, even with the help of her best friend, Faiza. There are other helpful people in the community, like Shanti, who lost her own child and helps out with children in the neighborhood, and Priya Didi, an American who is teaching a computer class at a community center that Minni is able to attend because her mother entered her into a lottery. Things don't always go smoothly; Minni is late to school, and gets in trouble when the principal finds out her teacher, Ms. Shah, is covering for her, she has trouble doing the work at Anita Ma'am's, and she is worried about her mother and brother. This makes it hard to study for her tests, which she knows are important for her future. When she has a realization as to the identity of one of the water thieves, she knows she needs to act, but also knows she needs to be careful about how she proceeds. Will Minni be able to get through this rough patch and work to reunite her family?
Good Points
I personally adore books dealing with every day life in other countries. Even if I ever get to travel again, that doesn't necessarily provide a good understanding of what it is like to like in a different society. Minni's family is not quite comfortable, but are very close to acchieving this, and it's great that Minni is able to continue to go to school. The computer classes were quite interesting. Seeing Pinky's much more comfortable life was interesting as well, and it's good to less US readers know that life in other countries can be very much like their own lives in the US. The sub plot with the water thieves is presented in a way that readers who have no concept of people struggling to get water will be able to understand. Minni's friendship with Faiza, and the cast of interesting and supportive characters, gives this an even more hopeful feel. I enjoyed this one very much.

For some reason, I thought this was going to be a futuristic dystopian novel (maybe because of the cover?), like Hughes' A Crack in the Sky, so it took me a minute to understand what was going on. We are apparently living in a time of all manner of actual dystopian situations; there are far too many places in the world where running water is still a luxury.

This is a fantastic book that gives a good look at different levels of society in Mumbai, and is so hopeful. I want to hand this to all of my students who complain about silly things like not being given a phone! Readers who enjoyed LaValley's The Vine Basket, Venkatraman's The Bridge Home, Saeed's Amal Unbound, and Faruqi's A Thousand Questions will enjoy this tale of grit and resilience.
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The Importance of Water
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The Indian culture is featured in the story, especially the challenges of living within a caste system. Minni’s family is of a low caste and they live in a tiny shack with a leaky tin roof. Minni’s brother had to quit school after tenth grade and hopes to become a chef someday. Her father owns a tea stand and her mother cleans the home of a wealthy family. Readers are shown a stark contrast between castes when Minni is forced to fill in for her mother. The extravagant home has running water, and a bathroom as big as Minni’s whole house! Minni’s neighborhood is called a slum, and she learns that only 5% of the city’s water supply is supposed to be enough for the 40% of the population from the lowest caste.
Much of the plot shares the challenges of Minni’s everyday life, but the value of water is emphasized too. In addition to standing in line for morning water, the family needs to boil it before drinking due to the unseen bacteria teeming inside. The water mafia steals water supplies around the city and sells it for huge profits. They bribe officials and the police to ignore their crimes but the citizens are the ones who pay the price. Minni’s brother is forced to flee the city when he witnesses thieves stealing water from a tanker truck since the water mafia will kill him if he’s found. Everyone prays for a plentiful monsoon season when torrential rains will make fresh water more available and ease the citizens’ struggles.
The family unit is especially important to Minni but she realizes her “family” extends into the community as well. She dearly misses her brother and she’ll do anything to help her mother and father. After her mother becomes ill, Minni discovers all of the unseen things her mother has done to support her kids and family. Minni struggles to take on her mother’s tasks but neighbors are ready to assist her with food and friendship. Minni’s best friend, teacher, and others offer her assistance when things become overwhelming. Minni is able to find success with the help from her community.
What didn’t work as well:
The head of the local water mafia is predictable and the arrest almost felt anticlimactic. I was expecting more drama and suspense due to Minni’s involvement but the story’s climax didn’t reach the heights I expected. The focus of the book is more about Minni’s struggles living in the slums so I guess it makes sense.
The Final Verdict:
The author presents a variety of problems for Minni and readers should empathize with people oppressed by society due to their circumstances. It’s hard to succeed when others tell you that you’re a lesser person. The book tells an emotional tale of a young girl chasing her dreams, and I recommend you give it a shot.
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