Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What a girl wants

There has been some comparison to the book Climbing the Stairs. While both are set in India during World War II, they are different books. I felt that Keeping Corner had more detail about Indian culture and I came away with a better understanding of a young woman's plight not so very long ago.

In Keeping Corner we have twelve year old Leela who has been married at a very young age. Leela is your typical girl, and that's what I love about her. She isn't bookish and she really doesn't care about politics. She is interested in looking nice and wearing pretty clothes and jewelry. That is the extent of her life, and I think that makes her so much more interesting as a character. I mean what young adult doesn't like those things? Leela's life is turned upside down when her fiancé dies. Now she is a widow at a very young age and must "keep corner." She has to shave her head; lose her pretty clothes and jewelry. The community views her as bad luck. Leela is trapped insider her house for an entire year.

While she is in mourning Leela's schoolteacher comes and helps her with her lessons. Leela doesn't want to be taught anything. She dislikes school. Yet, as time goes on Leela becomes more interested in her studies and she enjoys hearing about Gandhi. She grows as a character and realizes there maybe something out there for her. Maybe she can change how people view women.

Keeping Corner is an excellent story that has a lot of great details about the era and the plight of women. There is also an index in the back (something Climbing the Stairs didn't have).

I think students who are interested in historical fiction will enjoy this novel as well as students who enjoy reading about other cultures. There is no romance in this novel however, so that may turn some teens away from the book. However, I strongly encourage people to read this novel.

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