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“Was she a heroine if all she did was fix a mistake she made? Or was it heroic because she was willing to fix it in the first place?” Aru. –Aru Shah and the End of Time
Aru Shah and the End of Time
by Roshani Chokshi
AR Test, Must Read, Strong Female Character
Aru makes up stories such as having a fancy chauffeur and traveling to Paris. She doesn’t mean to tell lies, she just wants to fit in at her private middle school. While her classmates are vacationing in exotic places, Aru is stuck at home, which just happens to be connected to the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture.
Not all of Aru’s classmates believe her stories. One day, three students show up at Aru’s home hoping to catch her in a lie. Aru told them that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed. When they dare her to light the lamp, Aru doesn’t really believe anything bad will happen.
Aru doesn’t know that lighting the lamp will change her life forever. When the fire touches the wick, it awakens the Sleeper, an ancient demon, who is intent on awakening the God of Destruction. Now Aru’s mother and her classmates are frozen. Aru must do something to save them, but how is a young girl supposed to defeat an ancient evil?
Aru Shah and the End of Time will captivate readers from the first page. Action, adventure, humor, and interesting places in Indian Mythology come to life. The beautiful descriptions and interesting characters (including a pigeon sidekick) are just some of the reasons readers will fall in love with Aru’s world. Although the story contains many Indian words, the reader can figure out most of them through the story’s context. The back of the book contains a glossary that helps explain the Indian Mythology and terms.
Told from Aru’s point of view, readers will relate to her desire to fit in and her struggle with being truthful. Aru and her companion, Mini, are unlikely, lovable heroines. As the two girls fight to defeat the Sleeper, they discover that one doesn’t have to be perfect in order to accomplish great things, such as saving the world.
Told with compassion and humor, Aru Shah and the End of Time is a must-read for middle school girls. Not only will the story take readers on an amazing adventure, but it also teaches the importance of friendship, working together, and honesty. Because of Aru’s experiences, she realizes the importance of looking at situations from different perspectives. The many lessons in the book are seamlessly integrated into the plot and never feel forced. Once you open the pages of Aru Shah and the End of Time, you will not want to put the book down.
- At a school dance, the chaperone yells, “Leave enough room between you for Jesus.” As the dance progressed, she begins yelling, “LEAVING ROOM FOR THE HOLY TRINITY.”
- When Aru looks into the Pool of the Past, she sees her mother and father. “They were strolling along the banks of a river, laughing. And occasionally stopping to . . . kiss.”
- Aru and Mini trick a demon to make herself turn into ash. “The demon’s palm landed with a loud thunk on her own scalp. A horrible shriek ripped through the air. Flames burst around Brahmasura’s hand… Aru covered her face. Her ears rang with the sound of Madam Bee’s screams.”
- Boo attacks the Sleeper and poops on him. The Sleeper “growled and threw Boo across the room. The pigeon hit a shelf with a loud smack and slumped to the floor.”
- Shukra becomes consumed with his beauty. Because he spends so much time focusing on himself, his wife stops loving him. Shukra’s wife tells him, “How can I love someone I no longer know?” In anger, he kills her. “I do not remember doing what I did. . . It was only when the red had cleared from my eyes that I saw her corpse.”
- Memory-stealing snow falls on Aru and Mini. “This time, when the snow landed on Aru, it stung. Because it (the snow) was taking. With every flake another memory was ripped from her.” Later Aru causes someone to lose his memories.
- Aru, Mini, and the godly mounts plan an ambush. The ambush is described over a chapter. When the Sleeper arrives, he brings demons with him. “Aru ducked under the guest sign-in table as someone’s head (literally) flew past her . . . The seven-headed horse shook its head. Blood and spit flew over the walls . . . Boo acted quickly, and bird droppings rained across the demon’s eyes and forehead.”
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- The story focuses on Indian Mythology and includes gods, demigods, monsters, and demons. The back of the book includes a glossary of Indian mythology, so the reader can understand who the mythological characters are.
- Aru lights the Lamp of Bharata and awakens the “Sleeper, a demon who will summon Lord Shiva, the fearsome Lord of Destruction, who will dance upon the world and bring an end to Time.” When Aru lights the lamp, people are “suspended in time… Their skin was warm. A pulse leaped at each of their throats. But they didn’t move.” The Sleeper is a demon that can take many forms.
- In order to save Time, Aru and Mini must find the keys to the Kingdom of Death. The first one is found in the hair of a demon—anything that touches the demon turns to ashes.
- Aru discovers that her mother is a part of a sisterhood. “Five women who are reincarnations of legendary queens from the ancient stories. These days their job is to raise and protect us.”
- Aru and Mini meat the Seasons, who are tailors. Winter explains, “We dress the world itself. I embroider the earth with ice and frost, the most delicate in the world.” The Seasons give the girls magical gifts that will help them on their journey.
- Aru and Mini go to a market that has a library of living books.
- The Sleeper turns the “mounts of the gods” into clay and puts them in a birdcage. Aru uses a magical ball to free them.
- Aru and Mini are “siblings because you share divinity. You’re a child of the gods because one of them helped forge your soul.”
- When trying to explain the Otherworld, a character explains, “Many things can coexist. Several gods can live in one universe. It’s like fingers on a hand. They’re all different, but still part of a hand.”
- Aru’s mother said, “the Hindu gods were numerous, but they don’t stay as one person all the time. Sometimes they were reincarnated—their souls were reborn in someone else.”
- Aru and Mini go to the Halls of the Dead, where Aru can “hear the final words of people who have died: No, and not yet. . . And I hope someone clears my internet browser. But mostly, Aru heard love. Tell my family I love them. Tell my wife I love her.”
- After leaving the Hall of the Dead, Mini remembers, “in Hinduism, death wasn’t a place where you were stuck forever. It was where you waited to be reincarnated. Your soul could live hundreds—maybe even thousands—of lives before you got out of the loop of life and death by achieving enlightenment.” Later in the story, Aru and Mini visit that place where reincarnation takes place. The sign says, “REMAKE, REBUILD, RELIVE! REINCARNATION MANUFACTURING SERVICES.”
- Aru and Mini go to an office where a character explains karma. The story talks about Chitrigupta, who “kept a record of everything a soul had ever done, both good and bad. This was why karma mattered.” Later, someone explains, “As you live, your good deeds and bad deeds are extracted from karma . . .”