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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

The Girl in the Garden

Kamala Nair’s first novel was inspired by a trip to the tiny village in India where her father grew up. Nair describes her novel as a dark fairy tale, combined with a coming-of-age. Perfect choice for a teen summer read.

NAIR, Kamala. The Girl in the Garden: A Novel. 305p. Grand Central. 2011. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0-446-57268-2. LC 2010016492.  The Girl in the Garden

Adult/High School–Rakhee Singh is 10 when she journeys from Minnesota for a summer visit to her mother’s family in a remote area of India. A shy but curious child, Rakhee hardly feels welcome when her cousins taunt her about the darkness of her skin and her aunts deride her weak eyesight, both of which she inherited from her father. She knows little of the provincial customs and caste structures and even less about the secrets that compel her extended family to behave so mysteriously and rudely around her. When Rakhee sneaks into the forbidden forest behind the family home, she discovers an exquisite walled-in garden where a girl has grown up completely isolated from the world. Rakhee befriends the mysterious girl, but her covert visits set in motion events that will tragically alter her family. It is not until many years later when Rakhee abandons her betrothed and returns to India that she finally confronts the complex relationships and entangled loves that seem to be her family heritage. Wanting her boyfriend to know the reason she has abandoned him, she leaves behind a manuscript telling the story of that long-ago summer. That manuscript becomes Nair’s first novel. It is an engaging family drama of unspoken secrets that will satisfy teens who enjoy stories teeming with mysterious characters and set in exotic locales where wandering white peacocks, girls imprisoned in gardens, and doomed love all seem completely at home.–John Sexton, formerly at Westchester Library System

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.