01 May / Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman [in Bloomsbury Review]
India in the 1940s is a time of tumultuous violence – the British troops are subduing independence efforts, citizens of different religious backgrounds are fighting each other, World War II is raging in Europe, and the rest of Asia threatens to invade the Indian sub-continent.
Vidya is just 15, with dreams of going to college – unheard of for traditional, upper-caste women at the time. When her father suffers an irreversible brain injury during an independence rally gone awry, Vidya’s family returns to her father’s ancestral home where they must learn to live with conservative, constricting relatives. Vidya’s only escape from the stifling atmosphere is the long staircase that leads up to her grandfather’s vast library.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult