Monday, December 20, 2010
Review: Secret Keeper (Mitali Perkins)
Author: Mitali Perkins
Genre: YA fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: POC, YA, South Asian Author
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book on my Kindle
Summary (from the back of the title page): In 1974 when her father leaves New Delhi, India to seek a job in New York, Ash, a tomboy at the advanced age of sixteen, feels thwarted in the home of her extended family in Calcutta where she, her mother, and sister must stay, and when her father dies before he can send for them, they must remain with their relatives and observe the old-fashioned traditions that Asha hates.
Review: I have wanted to read this book ever since I read Mitali Perkins' Bamboo People, which I loved. I am so glad that I read this book; it is well written, has a wonderful story, and the Indian/Bengali culture is so well described.
Mitali Perkins has a way with words that make you feel as if you are in the story, that you know the characters, and that makes you want to read more. If I had been on home and not on a crazy Irish "vacation" I would have read this book in just a couple sessions. As it was I read whenever I could and finished it in just a few days. Her style is so easy to read I just kept wanting to read it more and more.
Ash's story is one of heartbreak, joy, and family. She is beholden to her extended family for taking her in, providing for her, her sister, and her mother, and for every aspect of their day-to-day lives. Perkins' first-hand knowledge of the Bengali family dynamics makes this story rich with details from the food to the clothing to the interactions among family members. In addition to an interesting and intriguing story, we learn about Bengali culture. I have read quite a bit of literature based in India and never tire of reading about the intricacies of marriage proposals, dating, the rules that girls follow, widowhood and more. It really must be difficult for a strong independent girl/woman when she lives in a traditional family such as the one in this book.