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From The Asian Reporter, V16, #33 (August 15, 2006), page 20.
Well worth the wait
Bringing Asha Home
By Uma Krishnaswami
Illustrations by Jamel Akib
Lee & Low Books, 2006
Hardcover, 32 pages, $16.95
By Josephine Bridges
For the celebration of Rakhi, a northern Indian holiday usually observed in late August, "sisters tie colorful shiny bracelets, also called rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers. Brothers give small gifts to their sisters and promise not to forget the special bonds between them." Bringing Asha Home is the remarkable story of a sister and a brother who have never met, who are not related by blood, who love each other all the same.
On Rakhi Day, Arun tells his best friend that he wishes he had a sister. By October, Arunís family has begun the long and often frustrating process of adopting Asha from India, where Arunís father was born. Arun is the big brother every little girl wants. In the winter, when he sees Ashaís photograph for the first time, he confides, "Itís only a picture, but it feels as if sheís looking right at me."
Next spring, the boy tells his father that they could get a special "baby swing seat for Asha" to add to his swing set. Early in the summer, the family gets Ashaís room ready. Arun makes a mobile of paper airplanes for his sister, whose first birthday the family celebrates with "aunties and uncles and neighbors and friends" even though the birthday girl is "on the other side of the world."
Itís August when Asha finally comes home, and the familyís reunion at the airport moved this reader to tears. In a war-torn world, it is no small thing that people who have never seen each otherís faces or heard each otherís voices can love one another steadfastly, can long to be together, through disappointment after difficulty after setback.
Bringing Asha Home is a realistic look at the adoption process. Because Arun narrates the story, readers are privy to his concern that Asha "doesnít cry a lot when she gets here." Itís also clear, particularly in one of Jamel Akibís many beautiful illustrations, that the waiting is taking its toll on Arunís mother and father.
But Asha is well worth the wait, and Bringing Asha Home is a deceptively simple, staggeringly important book that ought to be translated into every language and read or heard by every man, woman, and child on earth.
Bringing Asha Home will be available for purchase on September 15 from area and online booksellers. For more information, visit <www.leeandlow.com>.