Saturday, June 02, 2018

Secret Keeper, by Mitali Perkins

In 1974, Asha and her family are forced to move from their home in Delhi in with her father's family in Calcutta as Dad sets off to New York in search for work.  Living with grandmother, uncle, auntie, and cousins is challenging as tempers and finances become strained.  Asha and her sister struggle with preventing their mother from retreating into depression.  Meanwhile, the sister is being aggressively courted and the family is pressuring her to marry.  Asha mourns the loss of the freedoms she enjoyed back home as she is subjected to her uncle's family's more traditional ways.  Only the presence of an unusual boy next door gives her some escape.  When tragedy strikes the family, even that source of happiness has to be sacrificed in this bittersweet coming of age novel.

Full of beautiful cultural detail, this is a haunting tale of family, love, and loyalty. I found it deeply moving as it addressed the types of sacrifices that a family will make for survival.  Interspersed within the sadness are wonderful moments of humanity and humor that made the story come alive.

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