Thursday, August 3, 2023

The boy with a broken heart by Durjoy Datta (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!


29th Book of 2023


I started reading books in my early 20s. Unlike many readers, I started my journey with Indian authors. They have impressed me enough as I have been able to relate with every emotion they wanted to express. All the authors I read initially have become like a family for me. I never miss reading their books even if I get a chance after years due to other reading schedule in pipeline. I just completed reading Durjoy Datta’s “the boy with a broken heart” which was in my bookshelf since last 6 years. It’s the 2nd book in “The Boy” series- the 1st being “the boy who loved”.


This 327-pages book published by Penguin Random House is one of the most difficult books I have ever read. I had never imagined Durjoy getting so dark in his writings. There was a time I would write reviews complaining about the amount of sex he would add in his stories. I am just unable to comprehend how can the same author write something so deep which happens in such parts of India which isn’t exposed to many of us who have lived life in better cities/localities.


The book is again written in the form of diary entries – but this time from the girl’s perspective by the protagonist, Advaita. The initial part of the book is about her introduction along with complete detailing of her family. The initial pages describe the kind of life she and her sister, Divya, have spent since childhood. It is really tough going through the events. It makes you shift uncomfortably while reading as it becomes tough to relate and imagine a human being going through such bullying and violence since childhood.


Durjoy tries to explain how few Indian families have been under such patriarchal influence that they just don’t realize the kind of crimes they commit on daily basis. The book goes deep into making us realize how one human being can be so merciless towards another. Almost every character around Advaita except her parents are wild and wicked. Each one of them have a distinct type of evilness. I have felt lump in my throat so many times while going through this story that I wished to take action against any kind of bully I find in my life. That’s the impact this book has left upon me. I don’t know if that’s what Durjoy wanted to leave with his readers after they finish the book but this is how it has affected me.


There are various social issues about which Durjoy has focused upon ensuring that he doesn’t sound preachy at all. The book talks about how mean not only men but women of the family can also be. I am glad Durjoy took this stand as it’s only men who are being blamed in the name of patriarchy whereas the author tries to emphasize upon the point that even women can be equally harmful as men in a family. How the birth of boys is treated against girls is described very well in form of Advaita’s cousin brothers. Even their worst mischiefs are accepted and celebrated whereas Advaita and her sister are blamed and punished for just being themselves.


Through the character of Meghnad, we get to see the consequences of how few Indian families nourish boys that all they know about their existence is that they can tease and molest girls physically and emotionally without any fear and boundaries. The scenes where he forces Advaita to be with him are really tough to read and imagine. The story also throws light upon the way gay community in our country ends up living without ever letting anyone know about their sexual orientation. Durjoy also gets into how few Indian families never get to speak for themselves just because the man of the family is not powerful enough to take stand against others who try to oppress them.


Along with all of these concerns and many others, the book is also about friendship, hope, dreams, change, love, luck, redemption, belief, ambition etc. It is a fine read to experience the evolving relationship between Raghu and Advaita. The commitment that both of them shows towards each other – not exactly in respect to love but affection is nicely portrayed. The love between the sisters- Advaita and Divya reflects how few siblings always take stand for each other without being jealous or wicked.


The pre-climax is something that finally brings smile on the face of the readers who have gone through the trauma and pain for the first 300-pages. I liked how the whole sub-plot has been drafted by Durjoy. Finally, climax is something that doesn’t look relatable as, otherwise, the book feels like a real story whereas, here, it gets little Bollywood-ish. I wished Durjoy hadn’t gone on this path right at the end of the story which takes away the personal touch from the book. The last page of the book ensures that there could be a 3rd part of this series as well even though the synopsis mentions that this is just two-part romance series. But anyway, book ends at a very interesting turn where we can comprehend that the story can go in any direction and we might get to read something very magical again from Durjoy.


Overall, I must say that be ready to feel disturbed and shed few tears and relate with the trauma of the main characters if you are thinking of picking this book up. It will change you as a person forever and you won’t hurt anyone even a bit after this. It teaches us empathy in a very rare manner. I give this book 4.25 stars out of 5. I had to take away 0.25 stars just because of the Bollywood-ish end otherwise this book is a recommended read for sure if you have strong heart to bear the pain of the characters.






Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Love in the Time of Affluenza by Shunali Khullar Shroff (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


28th Book of 2023

With this one, I am done reading 3rd book in row written by Indian female authors. After Koral Dasgupta and Preeti Shenoy, I tried my hands on Shunali Khullar Shroff’s “Lovein the Time of Affluenza”. This 292-pages book published by Bloomsbury is a wonderful take on the life of riches living in the prominent societies of Mumbai. It is always a fascination to know what happens with people who live in abundance of money - how is their life different from ours and what kind of struggles they go through. This book talks about the protagonist- Natasha and all the other characters closely associated with her.


Shunali, through her protagonist, speaks about the challenges that every person has to deal after marriage. We always discuss about how divorces have become a regular phenomenon and don’t take a minute to blame it on the rich society living around us for making this as common as having babies after marriage. The book discusses about how Natasha falls into a dilemma when she finds her best friend, Trisha, cheating on her husband. She wishes to break the news to Trisha’s husband- Nakul as well as to her husband- Varun as both the men are friends as well as business partners. She decides to maintain silence but the whole scenario makes her question about her own life and marriage. Here onwards, Shunali has been able to make us relate with her at all twists and turns. Natasha takes almost the same decision that any person would have taken but its impact makes us think about our own perception of what we had done in her situation.


Shunali makes us think about why marriages become boring after a point of time. She speaks of how women are expected to take efficient care of both – home and work together without faulting whereas men, conveniently, choose to be busy at work without giving much prominence to their family. She also raises a concern about how parenting is expected to be a full-time job for a mother whereas father is unapologetic for not being in touch with his children and their basic needs. She highlights how a man is always sandwiched between his wife and mother and has to balance off the situation between both of them. She has also highlighted on the responsibilities of a man to be a good-earner which is often taken granted by housewives.


I am glad the way Shroff has discussed about extra-marital affair in her story. Initially, it does sound immoral even from the way the protagonist of the book perceives it but author makes no mistake in signifying how it becomes the only choice for the person who is not even receiving bare minimum from their partner. This part of the book makes us a little uncomfortable but makes us question the reality of our modern lives where it’s so easy to find a new person to enjoy the missing part of our marriage with them or even end up falling in love without any guilt or shame. Authoress has also managed the Natasha’s part here onwards and didn’t let the story end up on the predictable path but gives it a good turn and make us feel good as a reader.


Shunali’s writing style is interesting which is filled with appropriate ingredients of detailing and specifications that helps us understand the ambience and aura of a scene and imagine everything as it’s happening with one of our acquaintances. The characters are nicely crafted as it helps us relate with all the protagonist’s friends and family members. We are able to understand their mindset and personality quite easily to know how they would interact in any scenario. This helps the book become a perfect page-turner as we wish to read how they’ll react and respond to Natasha when she’ll discuss certain scenarios or happenings with them. I wish if author could have avoided mentioning few characters in the initial pages of the book who didn’t have much to do with the story as it consumes our mind in remembering their names and references.


Shunali’s humour and sarcasm are the USPs of her writing as it is really wonderful and heartening to read about certain self-talk that the protagonist does with herself and her expressions when she deals with moments where she finds herself not responding in an idealistic way. Even the dialogues written while the characters converse with each other in light and tough situations are scripted mindfully as it makes us smile while reading them. I am impressed with the way Shunali has spoken about a married woman’s ordeals who belongs to a rich society - without being preachy or imparting modern woke feminism which is thrown everywhere these days - where even wrongs of a woman is always right whereas a man is wrong even for raising his voice on a legit concern.


Overall, this is indeed an entertaining book. I will rate it 4.5* out of 5.






Thursday, July 20, 2023

When Love Came Calling by Preeti Shenoy (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


27th Book of 2023


Some books are like those feel-good movies where you know what will happen in almost every scene yet you like watching it because the director has shot those scenes in a way that it tells you a lot than just the scene itself. The last book I read named “When Love Came Calling” by one of my favorite authors, Preeti Shenoy, is exactly that. It speaks so much between-the-lines that you feel a life coach is talking to you. This is a simple love story about two individuals who are brought up in two different countries – India and Britain, meet on one of their solo projects and eventually fall for each other. The story then speaks about their individuality, their love for each other, the challenges that arises in their life, their separation, perception and a lot more.


This 270-pages book is published by Srishti Publications with whom Preeti started her career as an author more than a decade ago. The story is spoken in the first voice of the main protagonists and whenever needed; author has also made the other characters speak directly to us. This is one of the best ways in which Preeti is able to narrate her stories. This time, again, she has been able to weave magic by letting us know what each of the characters were feeling at every moment they shared with each other. This helps us to understand both- Arush and Puja as much as we know about our best friends. Both the characters are very likeable and even in the scenes where one of them is not being pleasant with their responses, we still support them knowing what they’re going through in their mind.


Preeti has a rare skill of philosophizing in her books without actually philosophizing. You navigate through the story but there’s so much spoken between the lines that you start relating everything with your life and realizations start hitting you. When I started reading, I felt young the way protagonists explored their life. Gradually, I could sense the difficulty around the phase in life when we aren’t doing great in academics and get confused about how to lead life ahead – majorly in our 20s and 30s. Lastly, the book made me think what kind of a person I am and what do I exactly need personally, professionally, socially, spiritually and in almost every aspect.


Author throws light upon the young phase when we find the person and feel genuine love for the first time in our life. Preeti also emphasizes upon the fact that how tough it becomes to maintain the love-relationship considering the challenging educational and professional scenario in our country along with the strictness of our parents. The parent-child relationship is spoken about descriptively on how parents never try to understand what their child is as an individual. She also focuses on how children are forced to be a certain way just because their parents think that’s the right way to live even if the child is dying inside every moment. The modern family set-up where all the members are ambitious is nicely explored which tells about the mental challenges for a child who is not able to do great in life like them.


Preeti also displays how siblings who are meant to be a moral support for each other can become the biggest hurdle in someone’s life due to their cold behaviour towards the other or regular comparisons between both the child by parents, neighbours, relatives, teachers and everyone around in vicinity. Love is also described beautifully and makes you feel romantic. If you have a partner, you will start giving them more time and importance and if you don’t have them, you will want to have a companion to share the emotions generated after reading this story. I liked how Preeti has balanced the immaturity of the protagonists along with the matured insight on the effect of love and relationship in one’s life. She describes wonderfully - majorly in the end – on how someone’s presence in our life can lead to value-addition in the way we see and perceive ourselves and our thoughts.


There are many instances when the book made me feel lump in my throat and by the time I reached the last 50 pages, I just couldn’t stop shedding tears. Preeti should apologize to me for making me feel embarrassed in the Mumbai local train for wiping my tears in front of all the people who take the same coach daily. The way pre-climax is treated is one of the most powerful aspects of this book considering that every sentence has enough power of directly reaching our heart. That section made me think a lot about how I would have responded to a cold behaviour after doing something very dramatic and out-of-my-league for someone. Shenoy also gives a very big lesson on forgiveness which will stay with me for a long time through this story.


The climax eventually gives a good and perfect closure to this book without disappointing anyone- either the characters or the readers. The book also taught about accepting someone being very different than us or even a complete failure in life. It tells that eventually some key moments impact a person and it might happen at some point of time with everyone. Until then, we should be supportive of our loved ones and stand by them rather than ridiculing them every now and then. This book is also a very big lesson on modern-day parenting regarding how to handle kids when they are struggling with their relationships, competitions, failures, confusions etc. along with their own career and ambition. This is one of the most emotional and heartful story I have ever read. Preeti Shenoy has always been on top of my list and will stay there forever. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.






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