A lot of girls dream about their wedding day—the dress, the celebration, the groom, the happiest day of their lives—but that’s not how it is for Sudasa. How could it be, when she is being forced to marry a total stranger at the tender age of 17? In the year 2054, one child policies in India have led to a huge disparity between the genders. Within the walled world of Koyanagar, boys are a dime a dozen. Only one girl exists for every five boys, and it’s essential to the government that all viable females marry and try to produce as many daughters as they can. In order to be sure that the country’s young women are choosing acceptable mates, boys are chosen to compete in a series of tests that determine who will earn wives and security and who will be sent to an early death defending the walls that keep them protected from the rest of the world. It’s Sudasa’s turn to preside over the Tests. Over the course of three days, it is her duty to award points to the five boys who are forced to endure different challenges to win her hand, and she recounts her experiences in lovely verse. In alternating chapters, older readers are treated to the thoughts of Contestant Five, an impoverished farm boy who is competing for Sudasa against his will. While most boys are desperate for the rare comforts that a wife can provide, Contestant Five is planning to use his competition as a chance to escape Koyanagar and find his long-lost mother. Meeting Sudasa throws everything off for his plans, though. Rather than the vapid spoiled girl he expected, he finds a gentle beauty with a love of poetry and some subversive ideas of her own. 5 to 1 puts a terrific spin on the dystopian genre, and Sudasa and Contestant Five are wonderful characters who will intrigue older readers as their paths become intertwined and their lives become forever, irrevocably changed. 256 pages, Ages 11-13 14+, Highly recommended by Molly Crumbley, librarian, Maryland, USA.
5 to 1
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Knopf Books for Young Readers
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