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*Luka and the Fire of Life* by Salman Rushdie- young adult book review  
Luka and the Fire of Life
by Salman Rushdie
Ages 12+ 240 pages Random House November 2010 Hardcover    

Twelve-year-old Luka lives in India with his family: his big brother, Haroun, and his parents, Rashid and Soraya. He is a perfectly normal boy, except.

Except that his big brother went on a magical adventure. Except that his father is a famous storyteller, known as the Shah of Blab. Except that Luka was born when his parents were in their forties and had the magical ability to make themselves younger instead of their real age.

that Luka is left-handed, with all the magical and sinister facets that fact opens up. Except that he has the power of the curse. He cursed the local circus, which treats its animals horribly, and thus acquires his two best friends, Dog (a famous dancing bear) and Bear (a dog that can sing any song).

One day the unimaginable happens: Luka’s father, Rashid, falls ill. He falls asleep and won’t wake up. As time goes by, he starts to disappear a bit at a time. What can be done? The doctors hold out no hope, and everyone else seems willing to give up.

Luka can't accept that. Out for a walk, he meets a strange man, a man who looks like his father named Nobodaddy. He tells Luka what can save Rashid.

Luka will need to enter the world of magic and steal the Fire of Life, which can revive his father. The man agrees to go with Luka and be his guide through all the dangers such a trip might entail.

Thus the journey begins. Luka, Dog, Bear and Nobodaddy have many adventures and encounter magical beings. Some are friends who help on the mission; others are deadly enemies.

There are the elephant-ducks, who remember all things. The Respectorate of Rats is populated by politically correct rats, who are determined to jail Luka and his friends. They are saved by the sudden appearance of The Insultana of Ott, a vibrant, exultant, insulting female ruler.

There are magical beings galore, and all the ancient gods and goddesses of all cultures and countries are encountered--some to help, some trying their best to stop the band of travelers. Can Luka overcome the obstacles and capture the Fire of Life, the fire that no one in history has been able to steal, in time to save his father?

Salman Rushdie has created a magical place with glorious language, painting marvelous images and full of inventive word-play. Luka and the Fire of Life is Rushdie at his best yet most accessible, so that even children can delight in his inventive mind. This book is recommended for all readers who remain young at heart, ready to be amazed and uplifted.

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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