Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw

April 4, 2016
Fifteen Lanes, S.J. Laidlaw, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Tundra Books (April 5, 2016)
Format Read: Kindle Edition (304 pages)
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Source: NetGalley

Fifteen Lanes
Noor has lived all of her fourteen years in the fifteen lanes of Mumbai’s red light district. Born into a brothel, she is destined for the same fate as her mother: a desperate life trapped in the city’s sex trade. She must act soon to have any chance of escaping this grim future.
Across the sprawling city, fifteen-year-old Grace enjoys a life of privilege. Her father, the CEO of one of India’s largest international banks, has brought his family to Mumbai where they live in unparalleled luxury. But Grace’s seemingly perfect life is shattered when she becomes a victim of a cruel online attack.
When their paths intersect, Noor and Grace will be changed forever. Can two girls living in vastly different worlds find a common path?
Award-winning author S.J. Laidlaw masterfully weaves together their stories in a way that resonates across class and culture. Fifteen Lanes boldly explores the ties that bind us to places and people, and shows us that the strongest of bonds can be forged when hope is all but lost.


"How can I dedicate a book to girls who may never have the freedom, education or leisure to read it? How can I not?"
I was super excited to read this, the second I read the acknowledgement. I was worried  how the author would handle describing the harsh and sad reality of Mumbai's sex workers. But the author's experience working with girls and women who have escaped  sex work showed in her sensitivity and truth described. It's important to read about the reality of poverty in so many places in the world. The contrasting point of views between Grace and Noor worked well. While both girls live very different lives their ability to show kindness to each other although they needed it for different reasons was great.

Grace and Noor's friendship was sincere,  while reading I never felt like their actions came off as unrealistic. Both girls acted in the best ways that they knew how. Noor's family while not perfect showed their love and supported each other emotionally even though they were in horrible conditions. Grace's support system while great was also didn't  understand her feelings of isolation and how hard she took being bullied at school. I was able to emotionally connect with both characters and enjoyed their ability to reach a mutual understanding.
"Seventy percent of our population lives in slums, a quarter lives in absolute poverty. Would you really judge a mother harshly because she would do anything to provide for her children?"

While the story was heartbreaking it had an important message for readers. You can understand and relate to others no matter how different your life may seem. I can't imagine living in fear, and absolute poverty with little means of escape. But reading this story has reminded me of all the ways that I can help others and how important it is, to do what we can to show our humanity and kindness for those around us. Overall this was a great read. I recommend this to readers who would enjoy learning about serious issues in a different culture, through a relateable narrative.

I received this advanced reader's copy from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Susan Laidlaw has twenty years experience as a teacher and counselor in schools and clinical settings around the world. She has published articles on parenting and has led workshops for parents and professional educators on a diverse range of topics related to raising and working with third culture children. When she isn't backpacking through Asia or birdwatching around her island home in Honduras, she can be found writing stories. Susan Laidlaw currently resides in Indonesia.

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