This was a nice read for ages 9-12. I particularly love the romantic and unexpected premise. Every day in Bombay (Mumbai) a group of deliverymen, dabbawallas, carry thousands of boxed lunches – tiffins – to workers all over the city. Only one tiffin in millions is ever lost – but that’s what happens in this story. The missing tiffin in this case has an important note in it, and because it is lost a young boy, Kunal, is separated from his mother. He grows up in very Harry-Potter-pre-Howarts conditions (except worse), until he is finally rescued by a kind dabbawalla named Vinayak. When he learns of his mother’s existence, Kunal is determined to find her using the powerful network of tiffins and dabbawallas.
Overall, this was a great read and a very good story. I sometimes was annoyed by Kunal’s actions and the silly decisions he made out of desperation, and the constant forgiveness he always got from those around them. But he is young and the forgiveness became important to the story’s end, so I forgave it. Mostly, I loved the dabbawallas and their network. I enjoyed the sense of dedication and professionalism they had, and their achievement of delivering those hot lunches all over such an enormous city. So often India (along with many others countries outside of Europe and North America) is shown to be a place with too much waste, inefficiency and nepotism. So it was nice to see a network that worked like a well-oiled machine.
A very solid and interesting book for its age range.