SHARMA's book should be approached with caution. Its stated purpose is twofold: to analyze the role of the hijras from the perspective of the "sociology of deviance," and to understand the hijras' social life and childhood experiences through 19 case histories. The latter purpose constitutes the real importance of the book, centering on profiles of and autobiographical quotes by the hijras. Sharma also notes the caste and economic background of the hijras, which in some cases helps determine their upbringing and introduction to hijra life. The limitations of the work are soon obvious to the reader, however: not only is it written in stilted English, but Sharma's summary of the "sociology of deviance" seems antiquated and his treatment of individual hijras smacks of a 1950s approach to sexual deviance; the text vacillates between sensitivity and unflattering remarks ("huge ugly looking" is used to describe one hijra). For these reasons Sharma's theoretical conclusions and explanations can usually be ignored, as well as his historical survey (which conflates eunuchs and hijras).