Keeping Corner

by Kashmira Sheth

In a spellbinding story, one girl’s struggle to determine her own future plays... read more

In a spellbinding story, one girl’s struggle to determine her own future plays out against the backdrop of India’s fight for independence as a nation. Twelve-year-old Leela is widowed before she even has a chance to move in with her husband and his family. Now, the tradition of her caste dictates she will spend a year “keeping corner.” Head shaved, she is not allowed to leave home. For the rest of her life, she will be a widow. Leela’s older brother is outraged: Leela’s future should not be sacrificed to tradition. India is changing, he tells his parents. Under the leadership of Ghandi, people are finding the strength and inspiration to stand together and defy the status quo in the name of justice. Leela is her parent’s beloved youngest child. They are devastated by what has happened, but they also believe that following tradition is a way to protect both Leela and their family. But they do agree to let Saviben, the principal of Leela’s school, come into their home and give Leela lessons. Saviben encourages Leela to read the paper, to think about what is happening in India and the larger world. Leela begins to understand she can be part of something bigger—part of the intoxicating changes happening in her country—but it’s all dependent on convincing her parents to let go of their fears. Kashmira Sheth’s storytelling is steeped in evocative descriptions of place and time, and peopled with vivid, complex characters in a rich, multilayered novel. (Ages 12–16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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