By Devashree Gharkar
The secret keeper is a story set in 1970’s, India. Story of young Asha as narrated by author Mitali Perkins, who refuses to live by the old orthodox way of life, it shows that how even in those days she had a strong sense of feminism and fought for what she felt was right, made sacrifices for her family and in every way possible tried to protect her sister and mother.
Our story starts as Asha, her mother and sister (Reet) moving to their father’s native village in Calcutta from Delhi,while he moved to America in search of a new job.
Asha was always compared to her elder sister (Reet) who was much fairer, prettier and had started attracting unwanted attention of suitors. The perfect “sanskari, sundar” Indian girl. Asha was the complete opposite- a tomboy with tanned skin, absolute opposite of an ideal girl standard even today. But even after these differences and comparison, the sisters loved each other and always had each other’s back.
Once they move to Calcutta the real trouble starts. Asha is busy trying to get rid of all her sisters suitors, help her mother from coming out of depression,understand what the life of the women in her family was and is, get along with her cousins and teach the neighborhood boys a lesson. In all this the only way of relaxation that she has is when she goes to the terrace of her house to pour her heart out in her diary “the secret keeper” which her Baba had a tradition to gift her every new year. On the terrace she meets her neighbour Jay who is as weird to the society as she is and a friendship blooms.
And as the plot develops news arrives that Asha’s Baba is no more and has passed away in a subway accident. This further increases her family’s efforts to marry off her sister to whomsoever who will be ready to marry her. Asha has to save her sister from getting married to someone who may never be able to keep her sister happy. Thus she asks Jay, her neighbour to marry Reet. Heartbroken that she will be she decided to go through with it.
After many requests to Jay and her sister to get married, they agree.
This is not the end. Jay promises to take care of Asha and her mother. He sends them back to Delhi and arranges for Asha to continue her education.
This book is one of my favourites because it is not your typical clichés but story of someone who is ready to let go her chance at love if it meant a good life for someone she loves more than herself.