A remarkable debut novel set in India that shows one girl's struggle for independence.
During World War II and the last days of British occupation in India, fifteen-year-old Vidya dreams of attending college. But when her forward-thinking father is beaten senseless by the British police, she is forced to live with her grandfather's large traditional family, where the women live apart from the men and are meant to be married off as soon as possible.
Vidya's only refuge becomes her grandfather's upstairs library, which is forbidden to women. There she meets Raman, a young man also living in the house who relishes her intellectual curiosity. But when Vidya's brother decides to fight with the hated British against the Nazis, and when Raman proposes marriage too soon, Vidya must question all she has believed in.
Padma Venkatraman's debut novel poignantly shows a girl struggling to find her place in a mixedup world. Climbing the Stairs is a powerful story about love and loss set against a fascinating historical backdrop.
Venkatraman makes a memorable debut with this lushly evoked novel set in India during WWII. Fifteen-year-old Vidya is shocked and proud to learn that her appa(father), a compassionate doctor, has joined the "freedom fighters," who follow Gandhi's example of nonviolent protest against British rule. But tragedy strikes: during a rally Vidya's father is beaten nearly to death and left with severe brain injury. Because he can no longer practice medicine, the family is forced to move in with relatives, who treat them as servants. The only bright moments of Vidya's days, otherwise spent under the thumb of her tyrannical aunt, come before dinner, when she is allowed to slip upstairs to the library and bury herself in books. More than a feisty Cinderella story (and yes, Vidya does find a prince), this novel vivifies a unique era and culture as it movingly expresses how love and hope can blossom even under the most dismal of circumstances. Ages 12up. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.