Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

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Ba slipped the gold bangles from my wrists. The gold ones were plain so I didn’t mind taking them off, but I loved wearing my milk-glass bangles and the lakkh bracelets.  

"A widow can't wear bangles,” she said. "They are signs of a woman's good fortune.  When your husband dies it's over."

"What if my good fortune comes back?"

“It doesn’t.”

Pretty as a peacock, twelve-year-old Leela has been spoiled all her life by everyone in her Gujarat village. She’s never been interested in school and barely takes notice of the growing unrest between the British colonists and her own countrymen.  Why should she? Her future has been planned since her engagement at two and marriage at nine. And now, as the day she moves in with her husband's family draws near, she’s too busy collecting bangles and ribbons to care about much else.
 But when Leela’s husband dies, her life changes forever.  Instead of being showered with  gifts and affection, she is is forced to shave her head and give away her beloved saris and bangles.  Leela is considered unlucky now, and will have to stay confined to her house for a year—keep corner—in preparation for a life of mourning for a boy she barely knew. 

When her schoolteacher hears of her fate, she offers to give Leela lessons at home. For the first time, despite her confinement, Leela begins to open her eyes to the changing world around her.  India is suffering from a severe drought, and farmers are unable to pay taxes to the British. She learns about a new leader of the people, a man named Gandhi, who starts a political movement and practices satyagraha—non-violent protest against the colonists as well as the caste system.  The quiet strength ofsatyagraha may liberate her country. Could it be that she can use the same path to liberate herself?  

In this novel based on her great aunt's life, Kashmira Sheth paints a heartfelt and evocative portrait of a child turned widow in Gandhi-era India.


About Kashmira Sheth

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Kashmira Sheth spoke to many child workers in Mumbai as part of her research for Boys Without Names. Kashmira herself was born in Gujarat, India, and moved to the United States when she was seventeen to attend university. She is the author of Blue Jasmine, an IRA Children's Book Award Winner; Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet; and Keeping Corner, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. The mother of two daughters, Kashmira lives with her husband in Madison, Wisconsin.
Published October 30, 2007 by Disney-Hyperion. 288 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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In Gujarat, India, during World War I, Mohandas Gandhi has opened an ashram attracting followers to his movement for Indian self-determination.

Oct 01 2007 | Read Full Review of Keeping Corner

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