Jennifer Bradbury’s ambitious new novel takes place in 1947 in the Indian city of Jalandhar, near the modern border with Pakistan, just before India is divided into two separate religious states. While the time and place may be unfamiliar to many teen readers, the dramatic, intertwining stories of the three young people at the heart of this story are sure to draw them in.
Tariq, a Muslim, would rather not go with his family to start a new life in Pakistan. Instead, he dreams of an education abroad at Oxford. Tariq finds himself increasingly at odds with his old friends, who try to engage him in acts of violent protest against the Sikhs. As Tariq struggles to keep hold of his future, his hopes are fueled when he goes to work for a British cartographer sent to India to establish the new borders. Tariq is sure that with Mr. Darnsley’s help, he can get to England.
Also in the cartographer’s household is the beautiful Anupreet, a Sikh, who has already been the victim of the increasing violence brought about by political turmoil. Anupreet and the cartographer’s daughter, Margaret, form a tentative friendship despite their differences. As the political tensions around them escalate, these three young people face intensely personal choices that will affect their lives—and one another.
Today’s teens may hear about disputes between Pakistan and India without having a sense of the historical context. In A Moment Comes, Bradbury shines a light on a complex time in history while telling a riveting story about the choices that sometimes determine our lives. Readers can almost feel the humidity, taste the delicious food and feast their eyes, as Margaret does, on beautiful silks in the marketplace. It’s a journey well worth taking.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Jennifer Bradbury for A Moment Comes.