Veera Hiranandani earned her MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of The Whole Story of Half a Girl, which was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asian Book Award Finalist.
In her latest addition to the fun and educational series “If You Were Me and Lived In …,” award-winning author and former social studies teacher Carole P. Roman introduces young readers to the country of India.
TCBR: Saraswati’s Way, is your second published novel. It’s set in India, where you currently live. Tell us about the book and its main character, 12-year-old Akash.
Monika Schröder: The book tells the story of 12-year old Akash, from the rural northern Indian state of Rajasthan. He has a gift for math. Numbers line up in his head easily, arrange themselves in patterns, and move in formations. In order to develop his gift for numbers Akash wants to go to a school in the city. But Akash’s family is poor and doesn’t understand his longing for learning. He prays to the Hindu gods Ganesh and Saraswati. When circumstances become so dire that his dream seems forever unattainable he makes an extreme decision, and runs away. After an adventurous train ride, he ends up in the New Delhi station, where he joins a gang of street kids. Finally, with the help of a newspaper vendor he learns that Saraswati will only help him if he deserves it.