A Beautiful Lie


“Everybody lies. We all do it. Many years ago I told one lie that has taken on a life of its own.” In India in 1947 the country is coming apart—and so is thirteen-year-old Bilal’s life. He is determined to protect his dying father from the news of Partition, news that he knows will break his father’s heart. With spirit and determination, and with the help of his good friends, Bilal builds an elaborate deception, even printing false pages of the local newspaper to hide the signs of national unrest. All Bilal wants is for his father to die in peace. But that means Bilal has a very complicated relationship with the truth. This extraordinarily rich debut novel brings to life a key moment in history and touches on the importance of tolerance, love and family.

  • 304 Pages
  • 5" x 7.75"
  • 9780807505977
  • September 2012

Buy from Albert Whitman

  • 9781480449961
  • May 2015

Other Places to Buy


  • The book is a great addition to a historical fiction collection that represents world authors and historical perspective that hinges on the strength of a young boy. And, Bilal certainly is a fighter from whom that anyone can draw strength.

    - VOYA

  • A provocative exploration of a historical moment that resonates today.

    - Kirkus Reviews

  • Master’s standout novel about loss and love illuminates an intense, fascinating chapter of history, one with bearings on the present.

    - Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • Master’s writing is lovely and descriptive. He expertly conveys the poverty of Bilal’s village. Readers can smell the mangos in the marketplace, as well as the filth, and taste the dust in their throats.

    - School Library Journal

  • Master’s insightful examination of a country at war with itself is made more powerful by young Bilal’s point of view. An engaging debut novel that will also find classroom use.

    - Booklist

  • The story is told through first person narrative, descriptions are vivid and poignant and the reader feels the anguish and anxiety of Bilal and the hostility growing between Hindus and Muslims.

    - Library Media Connection

Awards & Accolades

  • Best Children's Books of the Year 2013, Bank Street College
  • 2013 USBBY Outstanding International Book honor list
  • Honor Book - 2013 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People
  • CCBC Choices 2013
  • A 2013 CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People

Common Core

RL.7.1,2,3,4,6,9,10 RL.8.1,2,3,4,6,10 RL.9-10.1,2,3,4,5,10 RL.11-12.1,2,3,4,5,6,10


  • Accelerated Reader Points: 8.00
  • ATOS Level: 5.30