Sarah's Stars

Kashmira Sheth. Keeping Corner  
Hyperion $19.99 ISBN 978-0-7868-3859-2 288 pg.
Reviewed by Emma, Age 15

I felt the blood rushing to my face. I looked down. When I glanced at him from under my lashes, he was still watching me. He wanted me to come to his house. I couldn’t stop smiling…

When Leela was two years old, she was engaged to him. When she was nine, she married him—the wedding was musical and brightly-coloured and delicious. Now, at twelve, she still lives with her family, but Leela’s anu has begun to flirt with her fantasies: the day she will move in with her husband’s family.

Until now, he has been merely “her husband,” a meaningless figure in her carefree life. All of a sudden, Ramanlal is breaking the rules of their culture to talk to Leela, and she can’t stop smiling. But then upset strikes, in the form of a kalotar, the most deadly snake in all of India

Kashmira Sheth is the author of Keeping Corner, a novel based on the life of her great aunt. Sheth also penned Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet, and the award-winning Blue Jasmine, based on her own story. Kashmira Sheth was born in India, and now makes her home in the United States. I recommend her book to everyone age nine and up.

A simple story, told in simple sentences, Keeping Corner is a novel of quiet excellence. Through honest, thoughtful language and exemplary characterization, the power of this book is revealed as Leela emotes. With no obvious devices or employs, the author clearly imprints her heroine’s everyday feelings into the reader’s mind. With no drastic plot contortions, she leaves us bitter to the commitment that requires us to use a bookmark.

Like light inside a failing fist, not enthralled dark but empowered red, Leela overcomes the bonds of society, and the tradition that battens, but does not beat her.

Five stars to the most enlightening and evocative novel I have read in some time.

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