by Kashmiri Sheth
Leela's had a lucky life so far. Her parents spoil her, her brother loves her, and her husband and his family seem like they will truly treat her well when she goes to live with them in just a few months. You see Leela has been betrothed since she was a baby, was married at 9, and now that she is 13 she's not far from her anu, the ceremony which sends her from her parent's house to that of her husbands. But when her husband dies, all of that disappears. Now a widow, she is condemned to live the rest of her life alone and on the fringes of society. Her first year as a widow is a year of mourning, a year keeping corner inside her home. What she learns from a year inside might just give her the courage to break free of tradition and live a free life.
An interesting window into traditional Indian customs and life, Sheth's novel shows India on the brink of it's transition from British colony to free state. Ghandi features prominently in the book, not only because he was important at the time but also because his teachings are what help Leela see the world as a bigger picture and want to be a part of it instead of just a widow. The book addresses the clashes between modernization and traditions and the difficulty many have with melding the two.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Level: 7-8th Grade