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by Kashmira Sheth


School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ Gr 6–9— Married at age 9, 12-year-old Leela looks forward to her anu, the ceremony to send her to her husband’s home. Instead, his sudden death forces the young widow to stay in her own home for a year and face a bleak future. Suddenly, her life is “living death.” The privileged Brahmin child living in rural India in 1918 can no longer wear the brightly colored clothing and beautiful jewelry she loves; her head is shaved. Even after her year in isolation, others will shun her or worse. Luckily for Leela, her older brother finds a teacher to tutor her, preparing her for examinations that might allow her to go on to school and a career in a less traditional city, if her family can be convinced. Thanks to the teacher’s assignment to note and record details of the simple world in which Leela is confined, readers are immersed in sensory detail: the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells that surround her. Leela reads the newspaper, learning about Gandhi, whose influence is just beginning to be felt in a series of nonviolent protests. Her recognition of the unfairness of her situation and her growing personal strength is paralleled by changes in her country, long ruled by the English and by rigid tradition. As in Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet (Hyperion, 2006), Sheth provides a first-person narrative with a strong protagonist and rich sense of place, with the added bonus of an unusual historical perspective.—Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD –Kathleen Isaacs (Reviewed December 1, 2007) (School Library Journal, vol 53, issue 12, p144)


  • Amelia Bloomer Lists – Middle Grades Fiction: 2009
  • Parents’ Choice Awards – Fiction: 2007
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2009


6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, Teen, Women's Rights