Monday, August 31, 2009

Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins

Asha (Osh to her family) is uprooted, along with her mother and older sister, from her home in Delhi to Calcutta, the home of her father's family, while her Baba goes to America to look for work. He promises to send for the family soon and Asha dreams of the days she will spend in America where, as a woman, she can do whatever she wishes. And, Asha's dream is to become a psychologist. While in Calcutta she pours her heart out to her diary, S.K. (Secret Keeper) on the roof at the family's home. While there, Asha befriends and falls in love with the neighbor next door, as he constantly studies her out the window while she completes her "roof writing." Money is tight for Asha's Calcutta household, as her Baba's extra income is no longer sent and there are now three more mouths to feed. Tragedy strikes and Asha struggles to find her way in a world where her 17 year-old sister is supposed to willfully succumb to an arranged marriage and Asha's mother is being held psychologically by "the Jailor."

This book had one of the most satisfying endings I've read in a long time. The sacrifices Asha makes and the growth she shows was truly heart warming. I LOVE books about India and this one didn't fail to draw me in to the culture. Just the description of Indian food, even for this poor family, made my mouth water. But, I especially loved the characters in this novel. Asha's cousins were more than just secondary characters, they had a fullness to them that gave the novel a very satisfying feeling. I especially love the layers to Asha's Uncle, who turns out to have a very giving heart in the end. Now, I'm having a hard time topping this one, but I have ordered Monsoon Summer and can't wait to read more of Perkins' work.

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