Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Climbing the Stairs Book 35/Contest Clarification

First of all, I think I may have left some things out of the contest post. I’m going to post them here for everyone to see and then I’ll leave a comment on my contest post as well. Contest is open till midnight CST on Oct. 15. It is also opened internationally (provided you can tell me how to mail these books to you)!
Now on to Climbing the Stairs. As the future parent of half Indian children I have to say I absolutely loved this book. It will definitely go into a box of things to be saved for the ELF (Emily Lace or Edward Laurent Fred). But I think even without my connection to the Indian culture I would have adored this book anyhow.

For the most part it was accurate in its depiction of Indian culture (though it depicted India in 1941 not today). Many things have stayed the same. The one major flaw I saw in this depiction of a Tamilian (South Indian) Brahmin (Hindu faith’s educated caste) family was that they had a dog. Today, in India people don’t keep pets and Brahmin still believe they are untouchable. In 1941 there is no way they would have had a dog. But this book was intended for an American YA audience and I think most people wouldn’t have picked up on that. I did, but I can ignore because she uses the dog to set up metaphors for the treatment of women in pre-WWII India throughout the book.

It’s a historical fiction with a great deal of accuracy. It’s an issue book that stays interesting as it explores the treatment of women, the impoverished and really even the disabled. Though what I really loved, was the romance. The back of the book described it as a fairytale with a Cinderella (Vidya) who was unable to see it when her Prince Charming tried to rescue her. So I would have loved for the romance to come in earlier, but when it did it was strong. The thing that made it interesting was that the author was able to paint the romance so well and the characters couldn’t touch! It was a very interesting choice. It was a necessary choice. Even today in South India public displays of affection are tabu. Still, it was an interesting choice. Having a romance with characters that can’t hold hands, a Prince Charming who can’t hold Cinderella while she cries. This has me questioning all kinds of things. As a writer do I rely too heavily on physical touches to display emotion? Does my culture rely too heavily on contact to display love?

In fairness, I have to say the writing seemed to be missing something. There were elements that could have been stronger, still it’s a great book to read.


  1. The 15th?! I have to wait that long!!!! Just teasing... I've gotten a blog post set up for you on Sunday to give the proper shout out!!! :) Looking forward to some extra brownie points!!! Dying for the Hunger Game series!!!

    Great book review, I'll definitely think about adding it to my list!

  2. Sounds like a really interesting read. I like cultural books that challenge my beliefs or make me see things from a different angle.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  3. That does sound like an interesting book. I just can't believe they let the dog thing by. I'm no expert on Indian culture, but I knew that dogs are untouchable there. I have to wonder if the publisher wanted a pet in the book to connect with American audiences.

  4. Wow, this is such a beautiful blog. Glad I clicked here.

    I have no idea how to send mail to foreing countries, but wouldn't the post office be able to help?


  5. hi miss beth! that was a cool book review. that book is too old for me but im gonna tell my brothers and sister about it. my one brother loves reading culture stuff. he travelled in a lot of countries and he likes learning about them.
    ...smiles from lenny