Chellamuthu is a mischievous 7-year-old boy living a life of poverty in southern India. His world is shattered when he is kidnapped, taken to a Christian orphanage and eventually shipped off to America. His new parents, Fred and Linda Rowland, have no idea their new son has a family back in India looking for him. They just know he’s sad and scared in a new world he doesn’t understand. The Rowlands change his name to Taj and try to help him look to the future.
Ten years later, Taj is a confident, popular, all-American guy, but he still feels out of place. On a study abroad program in London, he meets an Indian family and discovers a culture he’d completely forgotten. A part of himself awakens, and Taj vows that someday he will return to India and hunt for his past. But after going back home, Taj is bogged down with work and school and sets his dream aside.
Then one day Taj sees a photo of an Indian girl named Priya and instantly falls in love. His quest to meet — and court — this beautiful young woman turns into a journey to find his past and his first family. It is a story of loss, discovery, determination and love.
The fact that this book is based on a true story is amazing! Taj’s journey from India to the United States and then back again seems too dramatic to be true, yet it is. The book contains lots of rich detail about people and places. I especially liked the vivid descriptions of Indian culture. It made me want to experience it all myself! The writing was sometimes a bit too flowery for my taste, but overall I found the book interesting, suspenseful and inspiring.
Rated: Mild. There are four to six mild swear words. No sexual content. A brief scene where a boy’s drunken father brands his feet with a hot tong (a somewhat culturally accepted punishment for misbehavior).