Monday, October 27, 2008

Secret Keeper

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.


Sherry said...

I want a salwar kameez, but I'm afraid that a 50 year old white woman would look funny in it. And I don't know where to buy one anyway. THey look so comfortable.

I'm looking forward to reading Mitali's book.

Sarah Rettger said...

I can't help with where to buy one (since mine come from the closet of my next-door neighbor, who buys a new wardrobe every time she goes back to Bombay), but as for the fifty-year-old white woman part, it can certainly be done. As soon as I can track down the picture of my mom all dressed up in a bright pink one, I'll post it.

Janet Brown said...

Truthfully I think the older you get, the better you can carry off salwar kameez. I turned 60 yesterday and think I might be ready for a sari. (Fortunately, living in Bangkok makes that easy--there's a neighborhood full of saris.)
And you've made me desperate to read Secret Keeper which living in Bangkok will not make easy!

Doret said...

This sounds really good. I love the cover and I want the girl's eyelashes