RI Center for the Book

ri national book festival submission

Congratulations to Padma Venkatraman! The Bridge Home is the Rhode Island submission for the National Book Festival in Washington, DC on September 25, 2020. 


Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

Watch Trailer

Listen to the first chapter in the author’s voice


Padma Venkatraman served as chief scientist on research vessels in Germany, directed a school in England, worked in a laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, and obtained her doctorate in oceanography at the College of William and Mary before becoming a full-time author. Her most recent novel, THE BRIDGE HOME, which has received eight starred reviews since its publication in 2019, is the winner of a Walter Award, Golden Kite Award, Nerdy Book Award, Paterson Prize, and Audiophile Earphone Award, in addition to garnering numerous other honors. Her previous novels, A TIME TO DANCE, CLIMBING THE STAIRS and ISLAND’S END were also all released to multiple starred reviews and gained several awards and honors. Born in India, Venkatraman was sworn in as a citizen of the United States in Rhode Island, which is now her home. Visit Venkatraman at www.padmavenkatraman.comor follow her on twitter (@padmatv), ig or fb (venkatraman.padma).


The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman is available to borrow with your library card through curbside delivery at all nine PCL locations (https://bit.ly/2Ms5WQU). The eBook and eAudiobook are both available on the RI eZone. Download the Libby app or navigate to https://riezone.overdrive.com/to sign up. If you would like a set of books for your class or group, please send an email to kate@ribook.org


 The Library of Congress National Book Festival is an annual literary event that brings together best-selling authors and thousands of book fans for author talks, panel discussions, book signings and other activities. The 20th Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate “American Ingenuity” in 2020, featuring the creativity and inspiration of some of the nation’s most gifted authors in a reimagined virtual festival the weekend of Sept. 25-27.
Visit loc.gov/bookfest for full details.

The event showcases the importance of books and reading. Every year, the Library of Congress asks each state Center for the Book to select a title that represents the state’s literary landscape to highlight at the National Book Festival, these titles are part of the Great Reads From Great Places Intiative. Rhode Island Center for the Book has chosen The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman, as the Rhode Island Great Read for 2020.

* “a blisteringly beautiful book” – Starred Review, Kirkus

* “absorbing” – Starred Review, Booklist

* “stellar” – Starred Review, SLJ

* “a story that must be shared.” – Starred Review, SLC

*  “exquisitely narrated” – Starred Review, PW

* “moving” – Sound Commentary, Starred Review

* Venkatraman brings love, support and humor to a story undergirded by tough issues” – SLJ audio, Starred Review

* “beautifully rendered” – SF Chronicle

* “gorgeous storytelling” – NYT Book Review

* “will break hearts and inspire activist longings” – BCCB

* “this bittersweet novel is about breaking the cycle of abuse, reaching for your dreams and finding home ” – Horn Book

* “an amazing book” – Newsday

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