Monday, October 27, 2008
I may need to create a new tag in LibraryThing: "made me long for an excuse to wear one of my salwar kameezes."
Secret Keeper definitely qualifies.
Asha would be happy to step into my jeans. She's sixteen in 1974, and would like to be playing cricket or studying for university - she has every intention of becoming the first female Bengali psychologist. But faced with a shortage of engineering jobs in India, Asha's father leaves his family behind while he looks for opportunities in the United States.
Asha, her mother, and her sister move into paternal grandmother's house in Calcutta. There's no money for school fees, and the Gupta adults aren't about to allow Asha to play sports outside the garden, so she finds refuge in her diary - her Secret Keeper - on the roof.
There are no villains in this book. There's no shortage of conflict, but, for example, Grandmother isn't a tradition-bound dragon lady. Asha frequently finds her strict, but she takes her granddaughters' side when it's appropriate.
Secret Keeper is filled with funny lines that jump out of the text (really, would the Grimms care if someone Indianized their tales?) and very nearly tear-inducing at the end - which did not turn out the way I expected.
And I'll admit it, I came away just a little bit in love with Asha's cousin Raj. If he gets to come back in a future book, Mitali, I certainly won't complain.
Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. Random House, January 2009.