By Deborah Ellis
“The best day of my life was the day I found out I was not alone in the world” begins this slim, no-nonsense tome by Deborah Ellis, followed by, “This is how it happened.” Easily read in a day or two, No Ordinary Day is narrated by the protagonist, Valli, a young orphan girl who escapes the coal pits of Jharia, India to roam the highways and byways of Kolkata, India. The story unfolds through Valli’s eyes, ears, and feet. Yes, feet. Feet that have been burnt, cut, and injured without an “Ouch!”
Through a series of circumstances like “washing” in the filthy Ganges River near a funeral pyre, Valli meets Dr. Indra as the doc reads an English Bible. Noticing how Valli steps into burning coals to escape a bee without any subsequent reaction, Dr. Indra offers, “I’d like you to come with me. My name is Indra. I’m a doctor and I can fix your feet.”
Easier said than done. Overcoming ignorance, apathy, fear, poverty and prejudice is no small feat. But Valli is not alone.
No Ordinary Day is no ordinary book. Ellis skillfully weaves science, medicine, socio-economics, class and caste disparities, hunger, alcoholism, poverty, abandonment, stereotypes, education and kindness into a seamless story of hope. No Ordinary packs a wallop while treating its audience with respect, allowing readers to form their own opinions and conclusions.
Includes an Author’s Note debunking common myths about leprosy and a Glossary of commonly used Indian words. Also the statement, “Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to The Leprosy Mission.”