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The Last Suttee by Madhu B. Wangu
"The author has created intricate characters that draw you in with their backstory, and make you feel everything that they feel. I had never heard of the act of suttee before reading this story. It is hard to imagine someone willingly agreeing to do it. As this type of event actually does take place, it is my hope that that culture will change that with time." @I I Create Purty Thangs
"Wangu manages to create a powerful story that reveals how life in India can be filled with so much love, pain, and promise. Interwoven in every passage are immense details that reveal the deep seated norms and binding expectations that women deal with, along with their ability to work towards their dreams and fight for what they believe in."Rachel Zaragoza-Quaill
"A stunning story of one woman’s struggle to stop the ritual of suttee. The novel weaves centuries old traditions with the stark march toward twenty-first century. It progresses with surprising plot twists, a ticking clock, and stubborn and powerful antagonist who challenges the protagonist, Kumud, to stand up to the orthodox and close-minded community" - Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop
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"You must come at once if you want to stop the suttee from happening again...” This phone message summons Kumud Kuthiyala back to Neela Nagar, the blue town of her youth, and the shackled life she thought she had left behind forever...
As a nine-year-old, Kumud witnessed the brutal and horrifying suttee ritual when her beloved aunt immolated herself on the burning pyre of her dead husband. Years later, Kumud summoned the courage to escape the isolated and primitive town of her youth to start a new life in Ambayu, a metropolitan city. She began as office help at Save Girls Soul Orphanage Center and progressed to become its director. At SGSO Center, she becomes a warrior for women’s education and equal rights. She teaches young women to protect themselves from outmoded practices and rituals that victimize women.
Then a phone call informs Kumud that the suttee of a sixteen-year-old is inevitable. She has vowed that she will never let it happen again. Still haunted by her aunt’s suttee, she leaves everything behind, including her love, Shekhar Roy, to end the barbaric custom that scarred her for life, and to save the young bride from committing suttee.
As Kumud travels back to the town of her youth, long-buried memories resurface and force her to remember the life from which she fled. The town that greets her is full of contradictions. It has electricity and clean water, and a new school is open to low castes, yet superstition and prejudice abound. How can she convince the town that their centuries-old tradition is cruel and barbaric, that a widowed young woman deserves the right to live? Can she change the minds of the townspeople and the Five Elders before it’s too late?