Sunday, June 5, 2011
Read for Book Battle; I was really excited to see that this was about India and it had some cool intersections with the discussions of my class about Indian literature.
Leela is a very spoiled twelve-year old who is about to have her anu, the ceremony that will have her go live with her husband and his family. Before that can happen though, he dies, making her a child-widow who must remain inside for a year, keeping corner. During that time, her schoolteacher comes to privately tutor her and open her eyes to what is happening in 1918 India.
I liked Leela a lot; she is incredibly spoiled but after her widowing, her life drastically changed. She has to shave her head, wear a plain chidri instead of a colorful sari, take off her beautiful jewelry, and remain inside the house. One part that especially irks her is that a widower can remarry while she will forever remain in her parents' house and will be viewed as bad luck. Happily she has a loving family who help her through her solitude. Really everyone in her family loves her and wants what is best for her. The subtle
Besides the familial aspect, Gandhi has already achieved respect in his quest for Indian independence and his philosophy of satyagrah or peaceful resistance is beginning to take shape. His view of an equal India, between genders and among castes, is highly appealing to Leela. She also learns about Narmad, who lived earlier and had many of the same thoughts. This story is inspired by the author's great-aunt who was also a child widow but was able to continue her education. Gandhi and Narmad were also inspirational for the author.
Overall: A cute story with some fascinating historical and cultural tidbits for me to learn!
Recommended for people looking for a good historical novel and for younger readers to learn a bit about India.