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.
Born in Philadelphia, S.J. Laidlaw spent most of her childhood in Toronto. After completing an undergraduate degree in English, she ventured to Africa as a volunteer teacher. There she discovered that her students needed as much guidance and support outside the classroom as in it, so after three years, she returned to Canada to complete a graduate degree in clinical social work. Since then, she has worked as a counselor in many countries and led workshops for parents and educators on raising and working with third-culture children. Her first book, An Infidel in Paradise, won the IODE Violet Downey Book Award, and her second book, The Voice inside My Head, was chosen as a 2015 CLA Young Adult Book Honour Book and has been shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award (winner to be announced). When she is not writing, S.J. Laidlaw currently volunteers at a night shelter for the children of sex workers in Mumbai. Visit her website at www.sjlaidlaw.com. The author lives in Mumbai, India.
“Laidlaw brings Kamathipura, a poor neighborhood in Mumbai, to life with her detailed prose. The author handles the delicate subject matter with care, balancing the desperate living conditions with glimpses of Noor's joys and aspirations." - Kirkus Reviews
“Readers will love the complexity and authenticity of this story, even if they know very little about the lives of sex workers in India. The protagonists’ voices make the story believable and unputdownable. Laidlaw’s secondary characters—the teens’ friends, relatives, and enemies—are just as fleshed out as Noor and Grace themselves. There is no easy happy ending for the girls, but their story shows the strength and beauty of the human spirit in a way that young adults will appreciate.” - School Library Journal
“.... A poignant story of two girls who share a city but lead vastly different lives .... chilling in its authenticity .... This is not an easy novel to read, but it’s an important one .... Kudos to Laidlaw for capturing the essence of Mumbai’s underbelly with such empathy and accuracy .... Fifteen Lanes showcases the strength of the human spirit in the most adverse of circumstances.” - Quill & Quire
“Laidlaw doesn’t flinch from the horrifying details of the desperate and dangerous lives of Mumbai’s poorest women. Noor’s strength and determination are inspiring .... [Grace’s] voice and suffering ring with authenticity. This heartbreaking and hopeful novel will appeal to readers of gripping contemporary stories such as Patricia McCormick’s Sold (2006) and E.R. Frank’s Dime (2015).” - Starred Review, Booklist