It's the year 2054 in an alternate Indian society where women are worshipped and five boys for every one girl compete for her hand in marriage. After years of poor treatment, the women of Koyanagar took over and created the Tests, aka the "fairest" way to ensure the best husbands for its daughters. Young Sudasa dreads the idea of becoming a wife as does one of the contestants, competing for her hand, on becoming a husband. Sudasa's family, though mainly her grandmother and older sister, believe in choosing the most convenient boy for her. Kiran, contestant number five, needs to fail the tests in order to follow through with his father’s plans. Sudasa and Kiran both face challenges of their own as the tests advance and slowly come to the realization that they both want the same thing -- freedom.
5 to 1, by Holly Bodger, took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions; through happiness and sadness; confusion and betrayal; love and loss and loathe. I couldn't put the book down as I followed Sudasa and Contestant Five through their emotional journey of finding themselves. I didn't think I would enjoy how Sudasa's point of view written in verse, while Kiran's were written in prose, as much as I did. Holly Bodger did an amazing job in depicting gender equality and sticking with the theme throughout. The way the verses are written bring a unique and compelling aspect to the topic. I was surprised to be so connected to the book on an emotional and personal level. It is so rare that stand-alone-books have such good open-endings but closing a book at a climactic point was truly satisfying. Sudasa and Kiran's future is left to your own imagination. I seriously recommend 5 to 1 to anyone who has any type connection to gender equality and/or the Indian culture.
Holly Bodger’s debut novel, 5 to 1, does not disappoint, and it marks the start of promising and exciting writing career. Come to the Carlingwood branch of the Ottawa Public Library on Tuesday, October 13, for fun and casual conversation about 5 to 1, meet the mind behind this fantastic book, and maybe gain some writing tips too! I greatly enjoyed reading 5 to 1, and I know you will too. See you on the 13th!
***This Blog Post has been written by Vanessa Ippolito, Teen Advisory Group member at the Carlingwood branch***