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Secret Keeper

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  383 ratings  ·  109 reviews
When her father loses his job and leaves India to look for work in America, Asha Gupta, her older sister, Reet, and their mother must wait with Baba’s brother and his family, as well as their grandmother, in Calcutta. Uncle is welcoming, but in a country steeped in tradition, the three women must abide by his decisions. Asha knows this is temporary—just until Baba sends fo ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published January 13th 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published December 24th 2008)
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Mitali Perkins is a wonderful writer and evokes India through smells, tastes and sounds, as well as through vivid visual descriptions. And Asha's (the teenage Benali girl who is the main character) fight to be less constricted in the 1970's brought back memories of my own teenage years and challenges during that time. The family relationships are wonderfully drawn, but this ended up being a hard book for me to review. This is no fault of the author but the reader: I don't think I fully understoo ...more
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The Secret Keeper is the story of sixteen-year old Asha, an Indian girl on the cusp of adulthood, who must move to her uncle’s home with her mother and her sister when her father leaves Calcutta to find work in New York. Asha feels acutely the injustice imposed on her by the cultural traditions that rule life in her Uncle‘s home. As a child she was given the freedom to pursue her own interests, whether they were viewed as masculine or feminine. Now she must accept her role as a traditional India ...more
It wasn't one of my favorite Indian stories because I wasn't invested in Perkins' style of writing. Her characters fell flat and I wasn't left wanting to find out the secrets.
Historical fiction 1970s, relationships between sisters and daughters/mothers, identity, marriage, Indian culture, friendship.

This is one of the best books I have read this year. I didn't want the book to end. This book reminded me of Keeping Corner that came out a couple of years ago.

Once Asha (who is 16) becomes a woman she must stop playing tennis and cricket, grow her hair out and wear sari's. This is difficult for her because her parents have treated her like a boy and then in one day they
Anne Broyles
Perkins gives another beautifully-written book with characters readers care about. The rich details of place and culture underscore the deep emotions Asha, Reet and their mother feel at dislocation and grief. I loved the images of depression as "The Jailer"and a psychologist as "a mender of minds."

I did not find the ending to be satisfying, but given the theme of fairy tales and how Asha emphasizes that real life doesn't have a happy ending, I think this author choice was true to the story, the
Asha and her mother and sister move in with their father's brother and family while Baba is away in America forging a life before he sends for them. A classic coming of age story in a not so classic setting of India in the 1970's. Asha is not only a girl growing up to adult hood, but she is also an India girl growing up under strict cultural mores and tradition.

Told in a lyrical slow-paced fashion, Perkins is able to impart lessons of sacrifice and survival without getting tedious or boring.

Leesa Savage
Secret Keeper is a story about two sisters that could not be more different. Reet is the pretty, curvy, and sweet sister, and Asha is the complete opposite. She is a rough tomboy, very athletic and likes to argue with everyone. With these two different sister work perfectly well together somehow. Their dad ends up losing his job and can't find work as an engineer in India. Baba ( the father) makes the dreadful move to America and their lies change forever. The girls and mom end up staying with r ...more
Lauren Richards
Secret Keeper is a story about two sister that could not be more different. Reet is the pretty, curvy, and sweet sister, and Asha is the complete opposite. She is a rough tomboy, very athletic and likes to argue with everyone. With these two different sister work perfectly well together somehow. Their dad ends up losing his job and can't find work as an engineer in India. Baba ( the father) makes the dreadful move to America and their lies change forever. The girls and mom end up staying with re ...more
David Korsak
This book is about two sisters who live in India and they are different in every way possible. The sister called Reet is beautiful, feminine, curvy, sweet and patient (everything that was expected from a teenage girl in 1974 India).The other sister called Asha is everything a girl is not supposed to be in that time and place – a skinny tomboy, athletic, argumentative, and competitive. The lives of these girls’ changes drastically when their father is fired from his job and can’t find any work in ...more
Sara Shelton
The book “Secret Keeper” by Mitali Perkins is about two sisters named Reet and Asha who face many challenges while living with their uncle in Calcutta when their father leaves for America to find a steady job. This story shows the relationships between the two sisters who are anything but similar to one another and helping their depressed mother. Other very important events that we see throughout the story are the unacceptable friendship Asha has with the boy next door and keeping her sister fro ...more
Keani Meier
In the mid 1970s a engineer father lost his job and leaves India to find work in America, The rest of the family (Reet-17, Asha-16 and Ma) move in to their uncles house with holds more traditional Indian value and feminist ideals. Within weeks Reet was attracting a lot of men, having the uncle looking for marriage proposal. Asha who made a promise to her father to keep the family safe found anyway she could to break the proposal even if that is that means embarrassing the entire family. Asha hop ...more
Asha, her mother, and older sister Reet are experiencing huge changes in their lives. Asha's father has lost his job and has gone to New York to try and find work. While he is away, Asha and her family move from their hometown of Delhi to Calcutta to live with her Baba's brother. Life has been changing for Asha for quite a while now; moving, becoming a woman and everything that comes along with that.

Struggling with wanting to live a life she wants, and living up to the expectations of her famil
Sarah Erikson
One book I definitely enjoyed reading this trimester was Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. I thought is was a little slow in the beginning and I actually didn't want to finish it the book, but I'm glad I read it in the end. This story is all about family struggles, social status, and love, but also helps to raise awareness about girls rights and arranged marriages. When she was younger child, one of the main characters, Asha Gupta, was able to pursue her own interests, but in a more traditional I ...more
i would have rated this amazing if ash had gotten HER happy ending. the ending of this novel was disappointing due to the fact that the author chose to ruin the romance between jay and ash, by pairing off reet with jay. Before i got to the end, i was hoping that after some years , jay would come back from america and finally take ash with him , while in america reet found someone of her own. all the time that jay and reet were married , they only saw each other as frieds and made a deal that the ...more
A beautiful story of family, love between sisters and of promises kept. The only reason I didn't give it four stars was because it reminded me so much of the book "Climbing the Stairs" that I sometimes felt I had read it before.
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
I liked it! :) It was sad, and I thought it could have had a tighter ending. But it was a compelling story with a great protagonist. It was good.
A wonderful story of family, sacrifice, and hope. Ms. Perkins came to our Book Club meeting and gave a fascinating talk about how the story developed and some hard choices she had to make about her characters.

In the novel, two girls wait with their mother for word that their father is ready to bring them to the U.S. In the meantime, they've moved in with relatives in Calcutta--a temporary stay that grows longer and longer. The three women chafe under the rule of the grandmother, aunt, and uncle
Maggie Desmond-O'Brien
I really hate it when people tell me a book is going to break my heart. Not that I'm not guilty of saying it, but it seems like so much weight to put on a little ARC (or paperback, or even hardcover) of a book. It stops me from making real connections to the characters, because all readers may be self-flagellants, but nobody really wants to punish themselves. (If you do, I've got a job rec for you in the kitchens of Hogwarts. A good house elf is so hard to find.) So as many good things as I'd he ...more
You think you know what to expect, and then you don't at all. I love how Asha's enlightenment is so realistic - there are traditional reasons for her feminism. I loved that it was set in such a rich time period and place, and the historical and geographical element is so fabulous and yet definitely did not overpower the story. I was totally shocked by the twist, and I loved the rich and realistic relationships. Perkins even fits in a realistic portrayal of depression before it was recognized! Th ...more
John Parker
The Secret Keeper is a nice introductory piece for those wanting to explore the mysteries of the land that lies between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The form of the story is not foreign, but some of the conflicts that arise might not be so familiar to all readers. The idea of the next living male relative taking responsibility for the family is not totally unfamiliar. The basic story could be lifted out of this setting and put into another culture. The results could be the same, but th ...more
I usually don't give plot summaries but I am including this one after my review because it gives a good idea about what the storyline is about and will hopefully hook you into reading this wonderful book. Perkins writes about India in the 1970's with all the political and societal complexities that comes with it. Her depection of India is lovely, the smells, the atmosphere, etc. translates very well into written words. This is a heartbreaking story, but it really does capture the essenence of be ...more
This is a lovely book about a tomboy named Asha growing up in 1970s India. While Asha's father is traveling to the US to find a job, Asha, her mother, and older sister go to live with her father's very traditional relatives in Calcutta. Asha feels stifled by their old-fashioned view of propriety; all she wants to do is go outside and play cricket.

The story is an interesting and realistic glimpse into the lives of a normal Bengali family of this time period. At times, though, I wondered whether
It was a great book!!
Asha and her family went through a lot together. Asha, the main character, decided that most of the problems or conflicts were her responsibility to fix!
She worked hard and lied, and even cut of her hair in order to fix her familys problems. She gave up the person she loved, and asked him to marry her older sister, which must have hurt her so bad!!
I think that Asha cared too much about other people and not enough about herself. She would literally give up anything for one
T.V and Book Addict
One of my favorite books! Loved it!

I am in love with this book. I would make out with it if it were a person. Seriously. I love it that much even though it broke my heart then stomped on it! hehe It really did do that though. I still loved it, I can't help myself. I love sad stories, I love great stories, I love really well-written stories and this book was just that. :)
You will find yourself liking Asha and feeling extremely sad for the situation she and her family are in. You will also be all
I rarely cry when I read books. I cried at the ending of this book. I had read other reviews of this book that hinted at a choice/sacrifice that Asha would have to make for her family but I wasn't entirely prepared for it. It was quite painful to read.

I was actually a little surprised by how affected I was by the ending given that I wasn't getting the feeling that Jay and Asha's relationship was all that romantic. Their scenes together are very short. The author says more about what is going on
Set in the 1970’s, The Secret Keeper revolves around Asha Gupta tough life she lives at her father’s ancestral Bengali home which shows discrimination towards women. Even at the young age of sixteen, she has a dozen problematic issues eating away at her daily.

When her father loses his job in Delhi, he moves to New York in search of better opportunities. But he leaves his wife Sumitra and his two daughters back in India to live in his ancestral home until he finds a good job in America. This is a
“Secret Keeper” is about Asha and her personal struggles adjusting to traditional Indian culture. Asha feels trapped by her Uncle’s decisions affecting her relationships, place in society, and her ability to form a self-identity. Asha recalls her life before the move, watching her Ma rule the social circles of Delhi, playing tennis, and being able to talk to boys and girls alike. Asha finds peace in writing, she journals about her thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Asha forms a strong bond with the ...more
Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins.

Wow, just wow this one makes you think, and be appreciative for what we have here in the United States. The language is beautiful and the story is heartbreaking. The Secret Keeper is about a family in India around 1970. The father of the family loses his job and goes to America to try to find another one, leaving behind his wife and two daughters. The younger of the two, Asha is a very strong willed girl. While their father is in America, Asha her sister Reet, an
The best part about this book is the descriptive language that Perkins uses throughout. Everything is so lush and easy to feel or visualize. At the same time, she doesn't coddle her readers, most of whom aren't familiar with 1970s Indian dress and customs; she does not go to great lengths to spell everything out. Because she lets you kind of figure things out for yourself as you go along (with the help of a glossary of Indian words at the back of the book) there were no obtrusive info-dumps to p ...more
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Mitali Perkins was born in Kolkata, India, and immigrated to the States when she was seven years old. She's written several books for young readers, including BAMBOO PEOPLE, RICKSHAW GIRL, MONSOON SUMMER, and SECRET KEEPER. She is also the editor of an anthology: OPEN MIC: RIFFS BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES. Mitali maintains a website ( and blog ( where she chats ...more
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