Last night I finished Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman. I am reading YA books by People of Color (POC) as part of this reading challenge. * It had what I needed to keep me hooked, a strong female protagonist inhabiting an historical period rich with details I know so little about (India, 1941), and a world populated with many other characters I believed in.
I am going to read it with my 7th grade readers (comes out in paper tomorrow-new cover-full on face of female character) because they are studying the American Civil Rights Movement on a learning expedition. I want them to be able to see the connection between Dr. King, and Gandhi, and what “unjust and unfair” looks like in other settings too. It may be a stretch to keep some of the boys into this, as it becomes very girl centered with a semi- emerging love story, and discussion of her being banished from the house during the three days of her menses. But, they can skim over that (or not), and read about her brother’s struggles to make the unrthodox choice of enlisting in the British army and the myriad consequences that choice has.
Remember YA (Young Adult) isn’t just for young adults. Incredible writing for all ages, and it will give those of you who may not have one in your life at the moment (a young adult) super insight into what they are interested in reading about. It is all the rage, and draws some of the worlds best writers.
“Starred Review. [T]his novel vivifies a unique era and culture as it movingly expresses how love and hope can blossom even under the most dismal of circumstances.” – Publishers Weekly.
“This is a poignant look at a young woman’s vigilance to break from expectations and create her own destiny amid a country’s struggle for independence.” – School Library Journal.
“The novel excels in its detailed depiction of a Brahmin girlhood and family life during a time of intense social and political change.” – Kirkus Reviews.
*A reading challenge–which was new to me as I entered the blogospehere is a way for readers and writers to connect about the books they are reading, learn of and suggest new titles and create community. This reading challenge was designed to: “highlight and celebrate authors and characters of color.” For a site devoted to this discussion on many layers check out Color Online for starters.
Thanks for this review and for particpating in the challenge!
I have this book sitting in my tbr pile and I’m really excited to read it. I’m glad to hear you are going to share this book with your 7th grade readers, it’s good to connect events globally and it presents a bit of a different take on the civil Rights Movement, since we can see where it all started with Gandhi (and Thoreau).
I love the mission of your blog, keep up the great work!
I’ve just read a great book by Heidi W. Durrow, The Girl Who Falls From the Sky. She’s getting great reviews all over the place, USA Today, The NY Times. It’s the story of a bi-racial teen who has been raised by her white mother, but at 12, after her mother’s death, she moves to live with her black grandmother.
Annie-Can you bring the book Tuesday?( BTW-Heidi is one of the “Mixed Chicks” of Mixed Chicks Chat! I am so excited to read it too. I just read the NYT review yesterday. )Thanks for including that here!
I’m thrilled you read my novel as part of the POC reading challenge – first time I heard of this! Thank you! I hope you’ll enjoy ISLAND’S END (my second novel, release date August 2011) as much as you did my first. It’s comments like yours that keep me CLIMBING THE STAIRS as a writer!