Sheila's Reviews > The Girl in the Garden

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
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May 20, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: cultural, mystery, relationships
Read in May, 2011

Born into two cultures, Rakhee Singh has built an American life for herself and hides the secrets of her Indian family. But now she’s engaged to be married; imagining building a family of her own, she knows she must first make peace with her past, and she wonders if her fiancé will still want to love her.

Kamala Nair’s The Girl in the Garden is a book written as beautifully as the garden it enshrines. The author engages readers with vivid depiction of childhood. In America, little Rakhee is always the odd one out, never quite fitting into their neighborhood and school while mother Amma buries secrets in the colors of her garden. In India, Rakhee is accepted as family but still can’t trust the love she’s offered, and still can’t offer what’s wanted in return. Meanwhile the garden of her parents’ love is filling up with weeds.

Rakhee finds acceptance in another garden, and a beautiful relationship develops while the world falls apart. Innocent discoveries bring guilty mysteries to light. And Rakhee slowly learns what it is she really wants.

The beauty of India, the simplicity of a different world, and the complexity of tradition and relationships are beautifully described in this book. Scents and sounds rise from the page. A child runs through the undergrowth and the reader feels the plants tug at her heels. The writing’s as rich as the peacocks and flowers on the cover and the story tugs at the strings of the heart. Rakhee’s visit to her past brings grounding and meaning to her present, and the resolution to the mystery is sweet, sad and satisfying, especially when viewed through her adult eyes. The Girl in the Garden is an enchanting story, told in first person with convincing voice, seen through the curious eyes of a child, and building up to the wisdom and love of an adult at peace with herself. It deserves a place next to The Namesake on any bookshelf.



Disclosure: I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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