My friend and critique partner, the lovely Suma Subramaniam, is our guest today on YAmondAY. She chose to share with us a YA read that shows that certain themes are truly universal.
Suma’s upcoming novel is called “Walking on a Tightrope.”
I heard author Mitali Perkins at the SCBWI Western Washington Conference. She was one of the keynote speakers in the two-day spring conference. She expressed her journey and experiences across various cultures. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India and immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old. She has written several books for young readers.
“Secret Keeper” is geared towards young teen girls. In this touching story, the audience will realize that teenagers of other cultures aren’t so different when it comes to making important choices in their lives. Many complicated themes are discussed: mother-daughter relationships, sisterhood, friendship, family hierarchy and love. Although the story takes place over 40 years ago in India, there are many things that young girls will relate to and understand.
In the mid-1970s, when her engineer father loses his job and leaves India to look for employment in America, 16-year old Asha; her 17-year old sister, Reet; and their mother move in with their uncle’s family in Calcutta. Beautiful Reet attracts many suitors, and her uncle soon begins to look for a suitable marriage proposal. But impulsive Asha, who promised her father that she would take good care of her sister, manages to publicly humiliate the first serious candidate. Asha hopes to become a psychologist, but her aspirations are curtailed by her lack of finances and concern about the family’s reputation. She finds solace writing in her diary, the “secret keeper,” on the roof of the house. Here she befriends Jay, who watches her from a window in the house next door. He wants to become a painter and, to Asha’s surprise, he takes a liking to her. Since conventions would not allow them to meet in public, he draws her portrait from a distance. Well-developed characters, funny dialogue, and the authentic depiction of spunky Asha’s longing for romance and female self-determination, set in a culture that restrains women’s choices, make this book an attractive pick for teenage girls. In the end, a surprising sacrifice by Asha demonstrates her emotional maturity and her love for her sister.
Suma lives near Seattle, Washington with her husband and three dogs.
Have you read “Secret Keeper”? Have you been inspired or touched by a YA book recently? Please share!