The Battle for No. 19 by Ranjit Lal
Name: Rhea Kumar (12 years)
School: Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, New Delhi
The Battle for No. 19 outlines the uncertainties that youngsters face at every step in today’s world. The book, set against the backdrop of the 1984 Sikh riots in Delhi, gives its teenage readers a peep into the grave and dangerous world of terrorism. Eight schoolgirls arrive in Delhi on an educational trip the very day Indira Gandhi was assassinated. They are caught unawares in the middle of a bloody war that threatens to endanger their lives. From the moment their cheerful Sikh driver is dragged out and brutally murdered by an irate mob, they are forced to battle one challenge after another. They take refuge in an abandoned house, only to find that it once belonged to a rich Sikh family and is therefore no longer safe. They must keep their wits about them if they are to triumph over an enemy seeking revenge through mindless killing and violence. Finally, it is either life or death for them and they must make a difficult choice. The book has many powerful heart- pounding scenes that leave a great impact on the readers’ minds as also many softer moments when the friendship and camaraderie between the girls comes into the fore.