Comprehending Suffering: Reading Young ‘Jamlo Walks’ and ‘Wounds’ | Young Readers Write

The Neev Book Award 2022 shortlist puts the spotlight on Indian lives. A lived reality numerous young readers picked up on while reading the shortlisted books are the tales of suffering, pain, and systemic inequalities. They speak to readers regardless of how old they are. Two students from Neev Academy, one from Grade 4 and the other from Grade 12, reflect on how these tales have added value to their lives and their bookshelves. 

Abhay Reddy from Grade 4 writes: 

Jamlo Walks by Samina Mishra shortlisted for the Neev Book Award 2022 in the Emerging Readers category shows how the Covid-19 pandemic affected all of us, especially the poor people and immigrants. It is a very inspirational story. It shows how we all adjusted our lifestyle during the pandemic. We were all confined to staying in the house and even school was online . These difficult times showed us how we adjusted to the sudden change in all of our lives and how teachers and parents managed their children in difficult times. It showed us that if we were brave we could fight anything, even Covid-19.

The main character in this book is a girl named Jamlo. She is an immigrant worker. This twelve year-old kid walks more than 100 kilometres through fields to reach her parents who stay far away, she also carries chillies from her job at a farm to impress them. The walk is so long that she dies of exhaustion. From this book, we learned that many immigrant workers and their children had to face suffering and travel long distances to reach their homes.  We also learn that children can be risk takers and brave just like adults. 

I liked this book because it is a true story of what we faced during Covid-19 and especially poor people. The illustrations are very detailed and the writing contains a lot of emotive words. After reading this book, I am sure the readers will want to help immigrant workers and the needy. 

Pranvi Khare from Grade 12 writes: 

If you’d told me three or four years ago that I would classify an “illustrated novel” as one of my top reads of the year, I wouldn’t have believed you. Just like most people, I thought that illustrated novels are for kids. However, in recent years, it has become commonplace to see illustrated novels for all ages, reflecting the cliched adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Wounds: Somnath Hore by Likla Lall and Kripa, shortlisted for the Neev Book Award 2022 in the Young Adult category narrates the story of Somnath Hore,  an Indian sculptor and printmaker, whose artworks reflected the conflicts of the time. It is an illustrated novel but is relevant to all age groups (especially young adults) as it deals with tumultuous emotions such as pain, anger, fear and uncertainty. It expresses Hore’s fascination with his world’s wounds (problems) and how they became “the heart of his art.”

It has wormed its way into my favourites bookshelf because of its unique portrayal (through its exploration of Somnath Hore’s art style, which the audience too gets to explore) of wounds and its message that art doesn’t need to be perfect but should reflect the emotions of an individual and their situation. I would suggest this book to anyone and everyone, as dealing with “wounds” – both physical and mental – is a universal theme that transcends age, and everyone can relate to it.


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