Friday, July 29, 2011

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the Garden is a unique story that is narrated by a 11 year old girl named Rakhee.   Rakhee's parents are from India but met, married and are raising Rakhee in Minnesota.   Mysteriously, a letter arrives in the mail from India and thus begins a life changing journey for Rakhee and her family.

Rakhee and her Amma (mom) make a trip for the summer to India where her mother grew up.  They arrive at the ancestral house called Ashoka named after the Ashoka tree whose beautiful red flowers grace the cover of the book. The Ashoka flower is a symbol of love to the Hindu and it is believed that Buddha was born under a Ashoka tree, so these trees are worshiped by Buddhists.    There Rakhee meets her extended family and spends her summer unraveling family secrets.

This book is a trip through Indian culture.  The famous poet Mirabai is quoted and remembered in this novel frequently.  In fact Rakhee throws a special volume of her poems down the well near the Ashoka tree.  Look up some of her poems, they are beautiful.  Mirabai is pictured below.

There are many Hindu deity references and visits to the temple.  As well as the epic of Ramayana which includes the timeless story Sita and Rama.  This is a beautiful tragic love story that parallels the story in The Girl in the Garden.  In fact Rakhee and her cousins act out this play for her 11th birthday and it as if they are reincarnating the famous story.

This book is full of secrets, witches and ghosts and as Rahkee figures out the truth for herself, she changes the course of everyone's life in the Ashoka ancestral home. 

Nair is an intelligent, emerging author that deserves your full attention.

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