Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw
Read: March 31 – April 4, 2016
Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)
My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: YA Contemporary
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When I requested this book from NetGalley, I’m not really sure what I was thinking. I like a certain type of book and I don’t often deviate. When I deviate, I usually end up disappointed. So, while I have no clue what made me think I’d enjoy this book, I’m glad I clicked the REQUEST button, because this book will stay with me for a very long time.
“There is a whole world of possibilities beyond our fifteen lanes”
Fifteen Lanes is a story of two girls in India, told in dual perspectives. Noor is a a young teen girl living in a brothel in the slums of India. Her mother is a sex worker and she knows it’s only time before she herself is sold off into the sex trade. Until then, she attends a school where nobody knows her true identity, and she cares for her younger sister and brother. She dares to dream that maybe someday she can escape this life and rent a room for herself, her mother, her siblings, and all of her friends who are slaves to the brothel.
Meanwhile, across town, there’s fifteen year old rich, white girl, Grace. She has problems of her own when she becomes the victim of malicious bullying. Her problems may not be as bad as Noor’s, but we all have our limits, and Grace has reached hers.
Can two girls from two completely different worlds save each other?
Side by side Noor and Grace are night and day. They live in completely different worlds and are going through completely different ordeals, but together they form a friendship. I wish the book had given more time to develop their friendship, as they met after the 50% point in the book and probably only saw each other on two separate occasions before the books climax.
You would think that Grace, who has never gone hungry, never slept on the streets, would be the stronger of the girls, but it’s Noor. Noor has been through hell, it’s all she knows. Of the two, she is the strongest and in the end, they have to save each other.
I think the book could have worked (possibly better?) just telling Noor’s side of the story, however giving the reader Grace’s POV may help some readers who are either unable to identify with Noor, or hesitant to even start the book because they’re afraid to dive into a culture so different from their own.
Remember when I said that I read what I know I’ll like, and I’m not sure why I requested this book?
I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to identify with Noor, being that she’s from the slums of a third world country and I’m middle class American. I was wrong, she was so easy to empathize with. That in itself is a true testament to an authors abilities.
I was afraid that the subject matter would be too dark—and it is—but the way the book is written, it doesn’t feel so dark. That’s not to say the author sugar coats things, she simply gives as much detail about the horrors of Noor’s world as a young reader needs. I cried more than once reading this book and I know if the author had chosen to go darker with more details, I would not have been able to finish, and I would not have been able to expand my world view via this book.
I would love to see Fifteen Lanes in schools. This book sheds a whole new light on #firstworldproblems. This book makes me want to do more for the world.
To sum it all up, my final status update for this book on Goodreads when I reached the end: In tears. Wow.