This week I’m excited to feature the work of my friend Rajni Gupta, whose YA novel, Girl in God’s City, has advanced to the quarter finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
This massive contest starts out with up to 10,000 entries across 5 genre categories. Rajni’s is one of only 100 stories remaining in her category, a well-deserved honor.
A free excerpt is available for download on Amazon (click here), which readers can rate and review. You’ll see my five-star review (G.Stephens) posted among the others. The judges will take these into account for the semifinal round.
Below is a summary of Girl in God’s City. If you’re intrigued, please click over to Amazon to read more and leave a quick review. A few sentences can go a long way to support an emerging author!
Girl in God’s City, by Rajni Gupta
Rebellious 16-year-old Nisha Talwar is angry and distraught when her pregnant mother kills herself. Nisha wonders if, because of the pain she caused Ma in the last eight years, she is somehow responsible for the suicide. The note Ma left for her offers no explanation, only pleas to—among other things—fall in love, take care of Father, forgive her, and, ironically, be brave.
Upon investigation, Nisha discovers that Ma had lost the baby she was carrying. Knowing how desperately Ma wanted the baby, Nisha concludes that the grief must be what pushed Ma to the extreme. The assumption doesn’t quell Nisha’s guilt. If anything, it reinforces it.
To unburden her conscience, Nisha sets out to fulfill Ma’s last wishes. But the constant clashes with her insensitive and authoritarian father make her want to get away from him instead of take care of him. She falls in love with the neighborhood boy, Sameer, but, afraid as she is of losing everyone she loves, she has a hard time staying in love. The heartache she experiences after a falling-out with Sameer makes her want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Getting a sense of Ma’s desperation, Nisha thinks she is ready to forgive her mother, but realizes later that she is not.
To resolve her hurt, insecurity, and anger, Nisha must be brave enough to confront a painful incident from eight years ago that’s at the heart of her guilt—her infant sister, Kairi’s death.
Set in the holy city of Varanasi, India, the story is about a troubled teen’s extraordinary journey through grief. This quietly poignant, literary novel with its universal theme — love and forgiveness heal — has appeal for teens as well as adults, especially those interested in multicultural/Indian literature.
Rajni Gupta lives with her husband and daughter in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was a finalist for the Elizabeth Simpson Smith award. Her stories have appeared in Muse India, Shotgun Honey, Pif Magazine and Every Day Fiction. Her Young Adult novel, Girl in God’s City, is currently a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.