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The Conch Bearer Book Review Summary

Detailed Plot Synopsis of The Conch Bearer

Two years ago Anand's father left to work on another continent. For three months he sent money back home to them just like he promised. Then the letters and the money stopped. Then his little sister, Meera witnessed a hit and run. She has been comatose ever since. Anand's mother has spent all their savings on doctors to help Meera. Now Anand is working for the cruel tea stall owner, Haru, to help make ends meet. Two things help Anand survive. First, is the look on his mother's face when he brings home his meager paycheck each week, and second is his secret belief in magic. One day an old man comes into the tea shop. Anand thinks he is a bit wrong in the head, like Meera. So Anand gives him the tea and Pooris he had packed for lunch. The old man thanks him and leaves. It's dark when Anand gets off work and it feels like someone is following him. A dense fog comes up and he barely manages to find his way home. Then the old man shows up at his door. His name is Abadhyatta and he comes from a valley in the Himalayas where the brotherhood of healers live. All the brothers have a special power. Some can look into the future, others can control the weather, and most important one special brother can use the conch, an object of great power. But one of the brotherhood, Surabhanu, began to covet the power of the conch and he stole it. Abadhyatta was sent to retrieve it, and he barely managed to survive his encounter with Surabhanu. Now Surabhanu is chasing Abadhyatta to try and steal the conch back. Abadhyatta needs an assistant to help him. He asks Anand to be that assistant. When his mother comes home and sees Abadhyatta in her home, she is afraid and sends him away. The next morning Meera is better, just like Abadhyatta said. Reluctantly Anand's mother lets him go help Abadhyatta. On their journey back to the Himalayas they will meet a young orphan girl named Nisha. She too will assist in their quest. But Surabhanu is determined to recover the conch.
This report prepared by Michelle



    Anand is a normal poor teenager who lives on the streets of India. He is kind to everybody and works at a restaurant as a waiter. When an old man comes and orders something but does not have any money to pay for it and gets kicked out of the restaurant, Anand gives the man his lunch, bread and tea. The man thanks him kindly, and said that something good will fall upon him. The man cures his sister Meera, who couldn't speak. The man, Abadhyatta, asks Anand if he wants to come on a journey with him to the Silver Valley to return something special to the "Healers". Anand says yes, and when his mother finds out that Meera is cured, she lets him go. Abadhyatta said that he would meet Anand on the train station by dawn, and if he wasn't there, then Anand couldn't follow along.
    Anand wakes up late the next morning, and doesn't find the man at the train station. He asks a street girl named Nisha if she saw him, and Nisha says that she will tell him only if Anand allowed Nisha to go. Anand reluctantly says fine, and Nisha tells Anand to follow her. They find him on the train, but along the way run into Surabhanu, an evil villain who also wants what Abadhyatta is bringing to the Silver Valley, a conch that with magical powers that can talk to whoever touches it last, also known as the conch bearer. Surabhanu tries to destroy the two children, but Abadhyatta distracts him and takes the children away. They arrive safely at their destination, and start to travel to the Silver Valley. They go through all sorts of forests, jungles, and mountain ranges with strange animals in them. Surabhanu also tracks them down and turns Abadhyatta into a squirrel, but he helps Anand and Nisha defeat and kill Surabhanu, a shapeshifter, with help from the magical conch. Anand becomes the conch bearer, and arrives safely at Silver Valley with a dizzy Nisha, himself, and a half dead mongoose, which is Abadhyatta.
    Before he can get into the Silver Valley, he has to answer a question: "Which of these three virtues is the most important: honesy, loyalty, or compassion?" Anand has an hour to think about it and answers with that he chose none of them because they all are connected and he thinks cannot fully exist without another. The answer is correct, and Anand is allowed into the city. The Healers heal Abadhyatta and Nisha, and Anand is given a choice of living forever in the Silver Valley and putting a spell on his family so that they won't remember him, or returning to his mother, father, and Meera back at home.
This report prepared by Jane Song








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Chapter Analysis of The Conch Bearer

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 30%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 25%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 25% Tone of book    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   fantasy story on current Earth Explore/1st contact/ enviro story    -   Yes Plotlets:    -   exploring a wondrous planet or phenomena Tech./$$$/Info hunt    -   Yes Stealing/recovering/destroying    -   magical artifact Lifeform altered?    -   Yes Kind of alteration:    -   Magically turned into another being Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Kid's book (ages 7-14)

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed    -   student Age:    -   a teen If magical mental powers:    -   can talk to animals

Setting

Terrain    -   Mountains Earth setting:    -   20th century    -   general past A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   humans in a primitive/fantasy society Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment How much dialogue?    -   significantly more dialog than descript    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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