Guest post by Madhvi Ramani, author of the magical children’s book Nina and the Traveling Spice Shed (for ages 7+)
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Can you imagine living someone else’s life? Looking like them, eating exactly what they eat, dressing, and acting like them?
That’s what Eva’s life is like. She is an echo, a copy of a girl called Amarra who lives in India. Amarra’s family had Eva “stitched” by a Weaver at the Loom in London, because they can’t stand the idea of losing her. If Amarra were to die, Eva would replace her.
However, the Weavers have not yet figured out how to make exact copies, and although Eva looks like Amarra and is connected to her in some ways, she has her own personality, dreams, and desires. She hates having to read Amarra’s diary, to learn and copy her life.
Although Eva’s life in London with her guardians is fascinating, things take a dark turn when Amarra dies and Eva has to take up her role in Bangalore. There, she finds herself increasingly on edge, trapped between fulfilling the purpose for which she was made and fighting for her freedom.
Eva is a great character—strong and willful—and we really feel for her as she battles to forge her own identity, help a grieving family, discover love and ultimately, stay alive.
The Lost Girl explores deep questions, such as what does it mean to be human? and Should we mess with natural creation? These themes have been tackled before—just read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go or watch AI or Blade Runner—but Mandanna weaves together elements from Frankenstein and Indian folk tales to create her own gripping, gothic story.