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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Street scene in Mumbai
Questions to Ponder

A philosopher might ask, is Abdul free? A sociologist frames a similar question in a slightly different fashion. Does Abdul have agency or is his future determined by social structural forces he cannot influence or overcome?  How about first year students at Skidmore; do they control their destiny?

  • What happens to our garbage?


  • What is the value of fresh, clean water?


  • What does Abdul hope for when he hopes to be ice "in Mumbai's dirty water"?


  • Where are there moments of happiness in the book?


  • Does hope play a role in the lived experiences of the people we encounter in this book?


  • What do you make of Adbul, the "protagonist," and his friend Sunil?  What is their friendship like?


  • What does it mean to be female in the cultural, social, and economic contexts portrayed in the book?  Think of the women you learn about:  Fatima, Asha, Manju...


  • Zoom in on page 37, and discuss the meaning of Boo's title.


  • Why does Boo decide to end the book as she does?  In a way, it is a "non-ending."  How do you the reader feel at the end of this book?


  • Carefully read Boo's "Author's Note" and consider how she goes about mapping out her project for this book, how she talks about herself as a writer of this particular book, and what her aims were in writing it.