16-year-old Reet’s father has lost his job in New Delhi, India, and leaves for America in search of work. Before he leaves, Baba extracts a promise from Reet that she will take care of her mother and older sister, Asha. The independent, tomboyish teenager takes this responsibility seriously, even when the family must move in with Baba’s traditional family in Calcutta. The atmosphere in the home is tense, and becomes more difficult as Ma becomes depressed and undesirable marriage proposals begin coming Reet’s way. To make matters worse, Asha’s spirit and promise to her father keep her at odds with her relatives, who believe the girl’s behavior is improper for a young lady her age. There is only one place where Asha can find peace: the roof of the house, a haven where she records all her deepest thoughts in her diary–and where she begins a secret friendship with Jay, a progressive-minded boy who lives next door. However, the precious hours of serenity spent on the roof cannot last–for the family receives news about Baba that compels Asha to make a heart-wrenching decision that will affect her family’s entire future. Mitali Perkins, the Indian-born author of Monsoon Summer, Rickshaw Girl, and other outstanding novels, has written a powerful story of family, loyalty, love, strength, and courage. Ages 14-18.
Recommended by Basya Karp, Librarian, New York, USA