November 11, 2020 8:36 AM EST

When a classmate goes missing in his impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of an unnamed city in India, nine-year-old Jai does what the police refuse to, even when bribed: he goes “detectiving” to find the boy. Journalist Deepa Anappara’s debut novel could have been depressingly grim as more children begin to disappear, a troubling complication based on actual incidents. But Jai’s positivity and can-do attitude, despite the challenges he sees in his neighborhood, proves an inspiration. Though his faith can only survive so much.

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