Publisher: Grand Central, 2011
My Rating: A
Rakhee is a girl of Indian descent who’s lived in Plainfield, Minnesota all of her ten-plus years. Things seem to be going as normal until her mother starts getting mysterious letters from India. And then, when school is out for the summer, Rakhee finds herself on a plane with only her mother. They are headed for India and Rakhee is not happy about leaving her father behind. Are her parents getting a divorce?
Once they are at her mother’s ancestral home, Rakhee is thrown into an unfamiliar world. Things look, sound, and taste different. She’s also not used to the way the various family members behave with each other. But she gradually makes friends with her cousins.
The cousins are instructed to play anywhere except in the forest behind the house. There is a walled-in area that Rakhee is very curios about. Telling her she cannot go there is like a red flag to Rakhee. One day she sneaks back there. She finds a locked door and peers into the keyhole.
“I was staring into the most dazzling garden I had ever seen. Cobblestone pathways between rows of salmon-hued hibiscus, regal hollyhock, delicate impatiens, wild orchids, thorny rosebushes, and manicured shrubs starred with jasmine. . . .
Then I was no longer looking into the garden, but into an eye–brown and inquisitive, like mine, pressing against the other side of the keyhole. I fell backward, then looked again, wondering if in my excited state I was imagining things. The eye had vanished, and the garden sat still and beautiful again.
But just as I was about to calm down, without any warning, the eye came back, then receded, revealing a face, a terrible face . . .”
Sorry, but I’m going to leave you hanging there. I don’t want to spoil it for you. I really liked this beautifully written story. The Girl in the Garden was set in a world that was very new to me – an exotic village in India. The story is filled with mystery: Who is the girl in the garden? What does the girl in the garden have to do with Rakhee’s mother? Why all the secrets and what do they have to do with Rakhee’s life? With all the mystery it was hard to stop reading.
I found it hard to believe this was the author’s debut novel. It definitely felt like the work of a seasoned writer. Kamala Nair was born in London and grew up in the United States. A graduate of Wellesley College, she studied literature at Oxford University and received an M.Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin in 2005. She currently lives in New York City, where she has worked at ELLE DECOR.
Connect with Kamala on her website: Kamala Nair.com
Check your local library or your local bookstore for copies of this book. The Girl in the Gardenis also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)