SF BAY AREA:
Writing Workshop, Thursday Jan. 15, 2009, 6:30 pm, Not Your Mother's Book Club, Books Inc., Town & Country Village, 855 El Camino Real #74, Palo Alto, CA. Phone: 650-321-0600.
Book Launch Party, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009, 2 p.m., Bellevue Barnes and Noble, 626 106th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA. Phone: 425-453-7958.
Teen Writing Workshop, Chai, Naan, and Samosas, Sunday, January 18, 5:00 p.m., Bellevue Regional Library, 1111 110th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004. Phone: 425-450-1765.
Book Launch Party, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009, 2 p.m., Newtonville Books, 296 Walnut St, Newton, MA 02460. Phone: 617-244-6619.
In an intimate and absorbing drama about a displaced Indian family in the 1970s, Perkins (Monsoon Summer) vividly highlights the conflict between traditional Indian values and feminist ideals. After Asha’s father goes to America in search of a new job, the rest of the family moves from Delhi to Calcutta to live in the more restrictive household headed by her grandmother. As often as she can, Asha escapes to the rooftop to confide her woes to her “secret keeper,” a diary; breaking the rules of the house, she also befriends the son of the family next door, who gazes at her through a window. But their relationship changes irrevocably when tragedy prompts Asha to make a painful sacrifice for the sake of her mother and sister. Readers may not always agree with Asha’s bold decisions, but they will admire her courage and selflessness as she puts her family’s needs before her own. Besides offering insight into Indian culture, Perkins offers a moving portrait of a rebellious teen who relies on ingenuity rather than charm to prove her worth. — Publisher's Weekly
Arranged marriages and the role of women are at the core of this novel set in Calcutta, India, in 1974 and told from the viewpoint of Asha Gupta, 16. With her father seeking work in America, Asha, together with her gorgeous older sister, Reet, and their depressed mother, must move in with relatives, who are not at all welcoming. Unlike Reet, Asha is dismissed as “dark, skinny, flatchested,” with little chance of snaring a good husband, which is all a “good” Bengali girl should do. She keeps quiet about her college dreams except with the boy next door, who paints her portrait when they meet secretly. But as things get worse at home, she must rescue Reet from a horrific arranged marriage. Born in India and raised in the U.S., Perkins knows the traditions; in fact, there is sometimes too much cultural detail. But the plot is full of surprising secrets rooted in the characters’ conflicts and deep connections with each other. The two sisters and their mutual sacrifices are both heartbreaking and hopeful. — Booklist
Asha would rather be burning bras, studying psychology and playing tennis like Chris Evert (she’s that good). Instead, the 16-year-old, her older sister and her mother are leaving Delhi and heading to her uncle’s house in Calcutta , where they will stay while her engineer father searches for work in New York . Only Asha’s diary, S.K. (Secret Keeper) 1974, and Jay, a young painter next door, know her true feelings when an unexpected tragedy strikes, leaving her at the mercy of a strapped uncle, her mother’s depression and rigid gender expectations. Perkins weaves descriptions of Indian food, clothing, government and customs into Asha’s quest for freedom. Although some references are forced, together they help explain the teen’s startling choices and the price she and her family must pay for a better life in this achingly realistic story. An author’s note adds more details about the time and the changes (e.g., women in the workplace) that have occurred in India since then. Asha’s struggles will enlighten and inspire young women, and encourage them to value their own freedom. — Kirkus
"...This was a beautiful book. (Haven’t I said that already?) But it really was. The family dynamics, with the father gone to America, the mother and two sisters left to live with relatives. The money problems, the Indian culture, it was all so beautifully written and described. However, it was not a romance novel where everyone lives happily every after in their perfect world. It was a novel of family honor and respect, doing what is right even though it may kill you inside. It was beautiful and worth it, but have tissues ready at the end!" — Book Embargo
"...Secret Keeper is filled with funny lines that jump out of the text (really, would the Grimms care if someone Indianized their tales?) and very nearly tear-inducing at the end -- which did not turn out the way I expected. And I'll admit it, I came away just a little bit in love with Asha's cousin Raj. If he gets to come back in a future book, I certainly won't complain." — Archimedes Forgets