As India's independence from Britain nears, political tensions mount as Pakistan, in turn, seeks it's independence from India. Author Bapsi Sidhwa uses the growing awareness of a Lenny, a 5 yr old Parsee girl living in 1940's Lahore to illustrate the origins of prejudice. "Will the crack in India come through our house," she wonders. Lenny's friends, neighbors and extended family are a diverse mix of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs. Lenny finds them curious and interesting. As she grows and her social awareness broadens, interesting differences begin to morph into distinctions between "us" and "them". As the political tensions erupt into horrendous sectarian violence, differences become threats.
Sidwha's novel doesn' t dwell on the historical background of the contest between India and Pakistan, but the outlines are there - mentions of the political leaders, loved and loathed,- some references to events both sides would probably rather forget. �