Friday, October 23, 2009



Excerpts of reviews from Institutional Review Journals
• …Venkatraman makes a memorable debut with this lushly evoked novel set in India during World War II…More than a feisty Cinderella story …this novel vivifies a unique era and culture as it movingly expresses how love and hope can blossom even under the most dismal of circumstances…
o Starred review, Publishers Weekly
• …In her first novel, Venkatraman paints an intricate and convincing backdrop of a conservative Brahmin home in a time of change…
o Starred review, Carolyn Phelan, Booklist
• …Climbing the Stairs is the coming-of-age story of a young feminist who witnesses both violence and peaceful resistance in India during the WWII era…Venkatraman achieved her goal of interweaving threads of Indian culture, diverse religious beliefs, feminism, war and peace into a compelling story…”
o Lynda Brill Comerford, Publishers Weekly, “Flying Start”
• …In an author’s note, Venkatraman comments on several elements of the novel, including Gandhi’s nonviolent revolution, Indian volunteers in the British Army during World War II, and her family history…
o Booklinks, Best New Books for the Classroom
• …Opening with the festival of Krishna Jayanthi, Venkatraman so skillfully weaves Hindu words, traditions, and religious festivals into her story that readers understand the vocabulaty and appreciate the beliefs…Vidya achieves the psychological distance to ponder cultural and religious similarities and differences by way of her philosophically minded appa and her Jewish best friend…With a delightfully strong female protagonist who struggles between tradition and the values she holds dear, this novel will capture the imaginations of many readers…
o Cynthia Winfield, VOYA, 5 Q 4P S
• British-occupied India during World War II is the setting for this impressive debut novel.... Thought-provoking and deeply moving.
o Booksense, Notable
• …A welcome addition to the small but growing body of historical fiction about growing up female in India…This novel excels in its detailed depiction of a Brahmin girlhood and family life during a time of intense social and political change…
o Kirkus
• …a poignant look at a young woman’s vigilance to break from expectations and create her own destiny amid a country’s struggle for independence…
o Rita Soltan, School Library Journal
• With Climbing the Stairs, Venkatraman fills an important place in YA historical fiction… The book is well researched, politically balanced, and based on real experiences. Climbing the Stairs is a valuable book because of the way it engenders cultural understanding. It is a primer in Indian culture with its history, religion, and traditions."
o Sandra Udall Crandall, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy

Excerpts of reviews from Newspapers and Magazines
• Climbing the Stairs… is a passionate story…In the novel, books serve as a saving grace…The central theme of the novel, violence and nonviolence, will appeal to an international audience…
o Michelle Reale, India Currents
• After reading this fine, often heart-breaking novel, I noticed that it’s for “young adults”. Well, I’m a 'youngish adult,' and I loved it.
o Sam Coale, The Providence Journal
• “Sam Coale is a Wheaton professor, a frequent reviewer and constant reader – but a 'youngish adult'? Well, in spirit, certainly.
o Editor, Arts Section, The Providence Sunday Journal
• …Padma Venkatraman’s debut novel works on many levels. Marketed for young adults, it’s a story complex and rich enough to hold an adult’s attention. Its setting in colonial India during the early days of World War II brings to mind our current occupation of Iraq. And the heroine’s struggles for freedom can be taken at face value, as a young girl’s coming of age, or as a deeper exploration of oppression…The story becomes one of emancipation – a young girl’s growing self awareness, her struggle to be treated as an individual with dignity, her yearning for education. This parallels the Indians’ determination to shake off the yoke of colonialism, and the wider struggle to stop Hitler from exterminating the Jews. The thread connecting these themes is the Hindu religion’s commitment to nonviolence, and the inevitable conflicts that result. All of this is woven simply but artfully together. The beauty of Venkatraman’s prose is that it can be read on all these levels. A young adult can understand the story and the issues it raises, while adults will appreciate the subtle intersecting of plot and theme.…This novel is an important story about the human struggle for freedom and dignity that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages…
o Grace magazine
• …A bestseller may be born in Westerly on Thursday…
o Marshall Williams, The Westerly Sun, Front Page article
• …Climbing the Stairs is already climbing the charts and its official publishing date isn’t until May… In a letter that accompanied a special galley mailing of the novel, Douglas Whiteman, executive vice president of Penguin, called the book “ a beautifully written story of love, loss and the power of one’s beliefs” and a “truly special book” which is “fascinating and heart-breaking, but redeeming at the same time.”…”
o Jan Wenzel, Quad Angles
• …Young Adult novels are difficult to review for several reasons…the genre “Young Adult literature” is in itself a tricky label because it assumes that the book will be predominant read by just one particular narrow cultural subset…Thankfully, Padma Venkatraman has put a few of these issues to rest, or at least rendered them temporarily irrelevant…one of the most successful aspects of the novel is…open-ended…allows her thematic questions to resonate more fully and widely…Venkatraman should encounter success, I suspect, since her first foray into fiction is an enjoyable addition to the genre – whichever genre you choose to put it into, that is.”
o Evan P. Schneider, Newport Mercury
• The book explores many themes – a young girl’s coming of age; feminism, colonialism;
and the Hindu tenets of nonviolence. Venkatraman did not intentionally write an allegory
of the war in Iraq, but she recognized that the book can be read that way…Marketed by G. P. Putnam’s Sons as a young adult novel…[i]n its language and subtlety, it reads like an adult novel…Readers who ignore such labels will find a rich, complex story…”
o Betty Cotter, The South County Independent
• It is not everyday that someone who’s made a professional career out of field science becomes a book author…But…Despite pursuing a career in decidedly left-brain oriented disciplines, Venkatraman says fiction writing has always been her passion…Climbing the Stairs has already received several positive reviews, snagging a Book Sense “notable pick” …as well as …starred reviews from Booklist magazine and Publishers Weekly. It has also been nominated for Reading Across Rhode Island, a state-sponsored project that promotes reading…
o India New England, 2008 Woman of the Year Finalist Supplement

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was a VERY good book only if there was a next book it would be interesting and fun. I loved this until I finished it. Oh, if there was and other book I would be so happy!