Cover image for 5 to 1
5 to 1

Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2015]
Physical Description:
246 pages ; 22 cm
"In a dystopian future where gender selection has led to [boys outnumbering girls] 5 to 1, marriage is arranged based on a series of tests. It's Sudasa's turn to pick a husband through this 'fair' method, but she's not sure she wants to be a part of it"-- Provided by publisher.
Geographic Term:
HL 680 Lexile.


Material Type
Call Number
Teen Fiction Bodge
Teen Fiction Bodge
Teen Fiction Bodge

On Order



In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa, though, doesn't want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view-Sudasa's in verse and Kiran's in prose-allowing readers to experience both characters' pain and their brave struggle for hope.

Author Notes

Holly Bodger has a BA in English literature and has spent her entire career in publishing. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult category. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.

Reviews 3

Horn Book Review

In a future-Indian dystopia, sex selection has created a steep gender imbalance. As a scarce and privileged female, Sudasa is forced to select a husband, and surplus male Contestant Five is trying not to be picked in order to escape the whole system. Sudasa's free-verse observations alternate with Five's prose narrative in this fascinating what-if tale about gender discrimination and Indian culture. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

In the year 2052, after a twisted outcome of the one-child laws in Koyanagar, India, boys outnumber girls five to one. The annual marriage tests of Sudasa granddaughter of Nani, a renowned matriarch of the system and her five suitors span three days and are witnessed by thousands. Bodger writes in verse narrative for Sudasa and in prose for Kiran (aka Contestant Five). While Sudasa's name translates to obedience, that is certainly not the case at 17, she is anything but obedient. She knows that Nani has stacked the deck in favor of her cousin, Contestant One, and Sudasa is not about to let that marriage happen. Test after test, from football to cooking to poetry, Kiran shows himself to be her true choice. However, Contestant Five has his own reasons for not wanting to be the chosen one, even if it means lifelong penance. Flavored by a South Asian cultural essence, this accessible dystopian novel builds readers' belief in the driving message: to be fair to oneself.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2015 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-In this debut novel told in alternating points of view, one in poetry and one in prose, Bodger explores a future in which gender selection in India has led to there being five boys for every girl. The prose is captivating in its authenticity, portraying Kiran's point of view very well. The poetry is appropriately jarring and nuanced, showing many aspects of Sudasa's culture and lifestyle. Sudasa is about to come of age, meaning that she, along with many other girls just like her, will watch eight boys compete for her hand in marriage. Kiran is one of those boys, but he has a plan to escape the tests, his inevitable military assignment, and the oppression of his country. Sudasa struggles against her grandmother's strong and repressive influence, while Kiran battles pressures from the other boys in his testing group. Over days of trials and judging, Sudasa comes to realize that Kiran may have another agenda besides winning her hand in marriage. Meanwhile, Kiran comes to see that Sudasa is not just a power-hungry woman looking for a male companion to obey her every wish. What these two discover puts them on the cusp of changing their worlds forever. In a not-so-distant future, readers see the possibilities of giving too much power to one gender or the other, and the negative impact that inequality can have on young people and an entire country. VERDICT An engaging dystopian novel set in India that poignantly explores gender politics.-Eden Grey, Kenton County Public Library, KY (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



One month from today, I'll wake to a team of makeup artists-- hairstylists-- buzzing outside my door. At Nani's command, they'll swarm. They'll poke me with their glittery swords, paint me with their honey. I'll fight the urge to scratch it away, because I'm Sudasa the Obedient and I must keep my fingers gluedtogether like the dolls Asha and I left buried under my bed. When the artists flee, the designers will inch into place. They'll spin me in their silks. garnish me with their golds. They'll lift me onto an easel. Wait for Nani to stamp me DONE! After that, I'll be placed upon an elephant-- the only creature who'll appear more ridiculous than me. She'll deliver me to a temple with no god. Then Nani will send me down the aisle with strict instructions to keep my gaze off my beaded shoes. The people of Koyanagar will Watch me. Question me. Love me? Hate me. Hate me for not marrying their son. For not bearing his children daughters. For not guaranteeing his future. At the end of the aisle, a boy-- squeezed into a black sherwani-- will sit on a chair, his spine as rigid as its spindles. He won't look at me; won't dare. I won't look at him, either. Will look at the woman in front of him. The one with the stole of red. The color of love? No. The color of blood. Blood of birth. Blood of death. The only things that matter in Koyanagar. When I stop in front of the woman-- Koyanagar's only marriage officiant-- she'll scan the papers in her hand. Commence the same speech she must utter for the two hundred girls who turn seventeen this year. Her first words today-- they won't be for Papa. He doesn't have a say. Can't give me away. How could he? You can only give away that which is yours to lose. No. Instead, she'll tell me to NNsitss then she'll motion for the flowers to come. Long garlands of lilies. Orange lilies. The flower of purity. (Or, some say, pride.) She'll ignite the fire of butter and wool. Tell the boy and me to stand. link our hands. She'll tell us to take seven steps. Accept seven blessings. Spend seven seconds circling around the fire. When we're done, she'll present us to the audience. Me and my husband: the boy. Only she won't call him that. She'll call him a name. A name I will not know. Until then, he'll be a n#mber from the Koyanagar Registry. Not a boy named Ravi. Jamal. Shahid. Not a fiance. Or a friend. A n#mber. Today, before any of this can happen, I have to get out of bed. Have to put on my sari. Have to open my door. Have to accept Nani's advice. Have to pretend Mummy gives some, too. Have to get in our carriage. Have to ride through the crowds. Have to sit in the theater. Have to wait for my turn. Have to follow the rules. Have to smile like I agree. Have to Have to Have to Have to Choose him. Excerpted from 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.