When fifteen-year-old Samir discovers that he's got new neighbours, he's horrified: he's left certain 'secret documents' in their flat, which should not be seen by anyone - and especially not by a cute girl his own age like Akhila Handa! But to Samir's surprise and relief, Akhila is amazingly sporting about them, and pretty soon their friendship blossoms as Samir gets to know the family: the bouncy boxer dog, Akhila's younger brother Sumit, who is 'a bit slow', and their strangely withdrawn mother. And most of all, her jolly, affectionate father who dotes upon his daughter.
Dotes, perhaps, a little too much.
Samir slowly comes to realise that all is far from well in the Handa family, and an incredible and terrible suspicion begins to form.
Smitten is a story that dares to talk about sexual abuse within the family. It is a story of love, and it's opposite. Of bravery and cowardice. Of tough decisions and loyalties sorely tested.
With characteristic lightness and sureness of touch, Ranjit Lal tackles one of the great taboos in Indian society. A must for every school library and bookshelf, the book includes discussion points and questions to facilitate conversations in the classroom or at home.