Author: Sheela Chari
Pages: 336 Hardcover
Reading Level: YA/MG
Published: August 9th 2011
Review Source: Disney - Hyperion Book
Available: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Borders
Summary: (from goodreads) Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument used to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.
When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela's intrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?
Sheela Chari's debut novel is a finely tuned story of coincidence and fate, trust and deceit, music and mystery.
This story started a little slowly for me. It didn't grab my attention right away, and I don't know that I ever really got hooked into the story. I did at one point realize that I had to know how it would end, though.
The author did a good job of weaving American and Indian cultures together, since the main character and her family descended from India and are living in America trying to bring together the best of both worlds, so to speak. I liked Neela's friend, Pavi, and how Neela was able to share all of the clues to the mystery of her missing veena with her. I also liked Matt, and thought it was very age appropriate how the author wrote about their friendship. Matt was also a big help to Neela as she was trying to figure out what happened to her most prized possession.
I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story and felt myself trying to piece together the clues to the puzzle right along with Neela and her friends. It was also interesting to read about the adventure that Neela and her friends had over in India as they continued the search for her veena.
One of the things I didn't really like was how Neela was very sneaky and told some lies that could have gotten her into some very serious trouble. She kept things from her parents, and I think part of that was her exerting some independence and part was that she knew they wouldn't let her do some of those things if she told them about it.
It was a good story, and worth reading, but it won't be one of those that I find myself coming back to time and time again like an old friend.