Climbing the Stairs

Have any of you ever thought about what it would be like to live in India? But not just India. India during World War II. And not just India during World War II, but a girl in India during World War II. Have you? I hadn’t, until I read this book, Climbing the Stairs, by Padma Venkatraman. The year is 1941, and as the Allies are warring with Hitler, India is fighting its own battles. Many Indians are sick and tired of being treated like they are inferior to the British who colonized the country, and it is a time of turmoil and change. But to Vidya, a fifteen-year-old with her mind on dreams and college, matters such as this are far away. Far away, that is, until something awful happens to turn her entire life upside down. Vidya finds her family uprooted and taken away to live in her grandfather’s home. But everything is different. The men, including Vidya’s older brother, live upstairs while the women must stay to the bottom floor. This new life seems as if it will be terrible, and Vidya begins to despair. Enter Raman, a friend of the family who treats Vidya with kindness. Vidya also soon discovers Grandfather’s library, rich in its knowledge. Then, just as things are starting to look up, Vidya’s brother makes a choice that shocks the family and leaves her to question what she believes in. I started this book and had a lot of trouble putting it down. This story is very unique, not just in its setting, but also in its characters and events. I learned much about the lives of Indians in those days, more than I expect to in Social Studies. It really made me think, and the writing is great. I strongly advise you to take a look!


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