Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Wheel Of Surya

The Wheel of Surya

Jamila Gavin


It's 1947 and Punjabi children Marvinder and Jaspal Singh are 9 and 6 years old. They live with their mother Jhoti (age 22), and the family of their father, Govind, in the Punjab. Marvinder and Jaspal have only met their father twice because he travels so often and rarely returns home to his family. Everyday Jhoti struggles to provide and care for her children because she works from dawn to dusk as a kitchen maid. Since Marvinder is a girl she must stay home and amuse herself all day, every day and she is not allowed to help her mother with her work. Jaspal, though, must attend school all day because he is supposed to follow in is father's footsteps and become an international businessman. Jhoti and her children long to live a different life.

When Jaspal and Marvinder are separated from their mother and their father leaves for England without them, they are scared but know that their father's family will take care of them. But when a fight in their village turns into a fire and the entire village (including many people) goes up in flames, Marvinder rescues Jaspal and is determined to leave India and go and find their father in England.

Marvinder and Jaspal are soon taking on the biggest adventure on their lives, traveling on a cruse ship, arriving in a new, strange culture and trying adapt to a different life style. The two children soon find out that there is more than a new culture waiting for them in England, there is betrayal…


I love The Wheel Of Surya for lots of reasons, but I have main two reasons why: #1- the timeline. I love how we follow Marvinder and Jaspal at different time periods of their lives. I feel like I grow with them. #2: the characters. Since Govind has a HUGE family there are a lot of characters and we are introduced to ALL of them and I love how the author made tons of characters in the book. I am an only child so I love reading about big families because it makes me think of what it would have been like if I had brothers or sisters (not that I want any, judging from the way my friends talk about their siblings!). All of the characters in the book are all their own person and all have a different sense of humor, and are each fun to read about. Some characters are bad, some are good, some are always confused and cluedout (which is always funny to read about!) and some are just trying to survive and 'get by' in life.

Now let's talk more about the actual story:
I think that the time period that was chosen for the story was a good choice. The time period is just after the Second World War ended and they still have ration cards (in England), so we get to learn a bit about them and that is interesting because we don't use ration cards today! I also liked learning about how Marvinder and Jaspal adapted to the English culture. Indians have a very different culture and way of doing things compared to the English and in the book we learnt about both cultures. Another interesting bit about The Wheel of Surya is that we learn about how people travelled and commuted just after the war had ended.

The Wheel of Surya touched my heart a lot for one other BIG reason, and that reason is that my grandmother was born in India and lived there for a short time when she was a child, then she traveled to England to go to school. She was in England on her own, so I feel like Marvinder's feelings are a little like my grandmother's. I would also like to mention that my grandmother read the book and thought that it was fantastic and portrayed a bit of her childhood life (since she also lived in the Punjab)!

Please note that this book was a required summer reading book for my school, so I did not choose to read it. Although I'm happy that I did read it!

Again, I am SO sorry for making you wait so long for another review, but I will tell you that I have a back-to-school must-read booklist coming out this weekend!

288 pages


  1. Nice one, Gia! I remember how quickly you read this book once you got started! Happy memories!

  2. This sounds like a great summer read. I bet it went well with lolling in a hammock, swinging in the breeze. What aspect of English life did Marvinder and Jaspal find most surprising or different?