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Saved by her grandmother from being killed at birth for having been born a female, Shilpa’s life took many unexpected turns and twists through her early years. She faced abandonment by her mother, the formidable constraints placed on her by her family, and the barbs of village elders bound by hundreds of years of oppressive practices and customs that subjugate women. Shilpa is torn between the contrasting lives she leads: one of servitude and injustice experienced by her family; the other of opportunity and empowerment offered by a good education in a school started by a philanthropist.

Just when all seems settled, an unforeseen death under mysterious circumstances shatters whatever stability remains in her life. Pulled in opposite directions, and torn between despair and dreams, Shilpa finally makes a choice for her future. Is she strong enough to stand up to the people she loves, and pursue what she wants?

At its heart The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter is about hope, when all seems lost. Written with raw honesty and grit, this is a deeply moving memoir of a young girl confronting her ‘untouchable’ status in a caste-based society, and her aspirations for modernity.


The Elephant Chaser's Daughter is Shilpa Raj's Memoir. In this book, she talks about the unimaginable difficult phases of life she has faced boldly. Shilpa in her childhood live a life of unprivileged kid in her village in south India. Her mother worked as housemaid and her father Anthony Raj is a Elephant Chaser. Just like her, her two siblings, her younger sister Kavya and her little brother Francis too had a difficult childhood. They had no good clothes to wear, no proper food to eat and their home had no bathroom and they had to go outside. If this was not enough,she also had to live in a violent environment of her family where she witnessed constant fights between her parents. Not just this, she lived in a village where male members of the society are given right to dominate  as women were considered subordinates.

Then there  comes a turning point in her life when she gets selected to study in a boarding school Shanti Bhavan. Shanti Bhavan is a second home for socially and economically unprivileged kids and they are given free education to help them choose  Authora life and career which they desire. Shilpa's admission in Shanti Bhavan gives her life a new direction, a new meaning. She gets the biggest gift of life, i.e. education. There too she faces many emotional problems but she is determined to overcome them with her inner strength. She has very well explained her emotional turmoil and readers instantly feels connected with Shilpa. I also loved about Shilpa when she takes her out from wrong path and she is able to differentiate between wrong and right and that too at such young age and without any proper guidance from anyone about her personal life.

Also I would like to appreciate Shanti Bhavan's unique efforts and the ways of helping  children and bring out the best in them. Reading about Shanti Bhavan and the love and care they shower on these children unconditionally changed my opinion about such boarding schools and the NGO's for kids in a positive way.

Shilpa through her story inspired me to work hard and achieve my dreams no mater how tough the circumstances  are. She is a strong girl and her real life story gives motivation to all readers. We get to think that when she can achieve the impossible through her education and limited resources then we too can make a life for us. After reading her story, i feel I am blessed to have so many resources to help me in achieving my dreams and I am grateful to God and people around me.  I salute the Author for being so hopeful in her difficult life situations.

And seriously, like from the first page, I had a feel for who Shilpa was, and I could picture her childhood and just everything. My heart just aches for her and how unbelievably emotionally damaged she was. I could totally understand why she was the way she acted. And I could feel all her emotions, and how she saw her life and how she saw herself. All I can say she is an amazingly beautiful soul. I couldn't help but love her. I felt everything with her and that's always the best journey an author can take you on. I understood her and I was disappointed seeing her tough life problems and I went through all the same emotions Shilpa went in as the story progressed. Shilpa, whom I adore and has become one of my favourite Authors. Author manages to provide an honest account of her heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. This is one of those unforgettable stories that stay with you for years.


The daughter of a housemaid and an elephant chaser from a South Indian village, Shilpa Raj's life changed dramatically when she was selected at the age of four to attend Shanti Bhavan, a boarding school for poor children.
At sixteen, her need for self-discovery drove her to write this moving memoir of her turbulent past.
Shilpa Raj completed high school with distinction in 2011-the first in her family to do so-and received a Master's degree in psychological counseling.


I am so glad you loved it! There is nothing better than falling in love with amazing stories, characters, and adventures.

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