Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 4185
The Importance of Water
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
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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