Keeping Corner

Publisher: Hyperion Books For Children; (2008)

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

In Gujarat, India, during World War I, Mohandas Gandhi has opened an ashram attracting followers to his movement for Indian self-determination. In a nearby village, Leela, 12, married at age nine, looks forward to moving to her husband's home. When he dies unexpectedly, Brahman custom requires her confinement at home for a year, "keeping corner." Prohibited from ever remarrying, her head shaved and pretty saris put away, Leela faces a barren future. Her loving family is heartbroken, but only Leela's brother has the courage to buck tradition, hiring a tutor to educate her. This powerful and enchanting novel juxtaposes Leela's journey to self-determination with the parallel struggle of her family and community to follow Gandhi on the road to independence from British rule. Among the vivid and appealing characters is India itself. Natural and human cycles—dry and monsoon seasons, landscape and animals, customs religious and secular—are rendered with a rich sensual palate. We leave Leela and her country poised to cross the threshold of autonomy at that enchanting moment when anything seems possible. (Fiction. 12+)

Keeping Corner Discussion Guide

Hear how Kashmira pronouces her characters' names

play


Foreign translation

Hebrew, Korean, French

Reviews

Publishers Weekly, 11/5/07, STARRED REVIEW: "Although readers unfamiliar with Indian history may not grasp the use of India's independence as a metaphor for Leela's growth, they will thoroughly identify with the heroine as she develops from a pleasure-seeking girl into an intelligent young woman..."



Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW: "This powerful and enchanting novel juxtaposes Leela's journey to self-determination with the parallel struggle of her family and community to follow Gandhi on the road to independence from British rule...We leave Leela and her country poised to cross the threshold of autonomy at that enchanting moment when anything seems possible.



School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW: "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"



Booklist, STARRED REVIEW: "Idealistic teens will be caught up in the human-rights issues, and the vivid cultural specifics, memorable characters, and the bold adolescent's challenge to tradition will attract a wide readership"



Bridget Zinn in Isthmus Book Reviews: Filled with breath-taking imagery and lush descriptions, Keeping Corner sweeps its readers into the life of a girl whose future seems lost, but who finds healing and courage from different places. Madison-based author Sheth draws from the life story of her aunt for this tale, and Keeping Corner also beautifully weaves in the true-life inspiration of Gandhi from this time period. more…



Kashmira Sheth reads from her novel Keeping Corner at the event Making Art of History: A Program for High School Students, part of the 2008 PEN World Voices Festival.



World of words' paired book review with Gloria Whelan's Homeless Bird



Review by Pooja Makhijani at the The Book Bin




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Awards, Honors, Prizes
  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Honor award) —Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) 2008
  • IRA Notable Books for A Global Society (International Reading Association)
  • 2007 Parent's Choice Award Gold Winner
  • 2008 Friends of American Writers Award
  • 2008 Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts
  • Booklist Top Ten Historical Fiction for Youth
  • CCBC Choices: 2008
  • 2009 Amelia Bloomer Project List
  • The Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Outstanding Book—Wisconsin Library Association 2008
  • Nominated for Maine Student Book Award 2008-2009
  • Nominated for Rhode Island Teen Book award 2009
  • Nominated for North Carolina Young Adult Book Award 2008-2009

Resources

Interview with author Nancy Castaldo



What I'm working on now...

Right now I'm working on two different immigrant stories. They are both set in the United States.