But on to the story. Eleven year-old Neela has the most beautiful instrument: her grandmothers veena, an instrument from India with a magical past. When it gets stolen from Neela, she feels horribly guilty, and begins her quest to find the veena. She follows different clues like a true amateur sleuth: a magical teakettle, a link to a dead musician... Meanwhile, Neela is trying to figure out where she fits at home, at school and with her friends, as well as what's really important to her.
This story felt like a classic middle-grade: the coming of age story, the unique cultural insight, and a mystery to keep the story moving. The author added some notes in the back of the book about the veena and her research--great extra material that I think should put this book with the classics in MG.
Verdict: strong MG classic, a great insight into the veena and Indian culture, too
Mystery Quotient: 4 out of 5. Not a mystery first, but still a good contender.
Side note: This book should be on the various children's awards list, I think. Perfect coming-of-age story.