This is not a review of the book but is a personal note to my good friend and author Ruchi Singh.
My dear Ruchi,
I cried for long (a rarity in my life and I can count the occasions on one hand). after I finished the book. I was sobbing like I didn’t, even when I lost my daughters. I’ll give you the reason in a few seconds.
First, take a bow and you don’t have to be humble about it. You have immense talent. You can write and very well at that. Enjoy it, celebrate it and nurture it. Your writing is seamless and flows like chilled water out of a glass into a parched throat. Beautiful. Dialogues are great with subtle wit. I am in love with your style and the choice of words. A word of caution about the use of personal pronouns though (Him, her, his) – Over use of pronouns instead of proper nouns was confusing at places. Your chapters break with lovely hooks. They coax one to continue reading. I finished the book in one go, which btw has become a rarity with the books I am reading (even from well known award winning authors). Your characters are sculpted well, glowing as you intended them to be. I enjoyed the friendly banter among friends and am in love with Rahul, the ONLY character I like, which made sense to me.
I disliked the characters of both Abhimanyu and Priya. (Hero and Heroine) They read like personifications of clichés. Abhimanyu was out of favor with his patronizing tone throughout the book, shoving his decisions like a military order for people to comply, is just not cool to me. I don’t like I-know-what-is-good-for-you attitude in anyone and a big no no for a hero in my books. What a condescending arrogant butt.
Our dear heroine is the damsel in distress looking for a shoulder, as if that is the only thing that completes her. I mean come on. How many women in reality put off those thoughts for ever or at least for a few years and lead happy single lives? And that is the message you need to send out. That it is okay to live a single life. One need not fear a man’s absence in one’s life. It presents an opportunity to know one’s self -both strengths and weaknesses. Give the character and the reader (who is in a similar situation) the required inspiration to attain stability of mind, that helps take control of their lives. Here our dear female MC seems like she can’t stand on her own two feet. “Oh what if I lose him and never find true love and turn into bitter Ms. Kothari,” tone always irks me. It is such a cliché that single people are bitter or women without children are jealous of women with kids.
Unfortunately, the story did not invoke the emotions you were expecting from me. For two reasons. One, the plot was not for me. Not at my age and my hormone levels, and two it was bland and tasteless to my senses. All the twists and turns were predictable. In fact, the plot is very Bollywood, where most of the scenes feel like been there seen that. Also, the plot feeds into the existing crap surrounding women in Indian society.
To me, reading and writing are serious business. I meticulously choose what I’d read and I am extremely careful with the intensity and impact my written word creates on a reader. The first question I usually ask after I am done with my first draft is – Will it make the person think beyond the story? Followed by: Did I inspire the person to have the courage to break the self-created barriers and see the POV I presented? Were my arguments logical, rational and well researched? Can they stand up and fight injustice? After all, writing comes with an altruistic goal of making some one’s life better and richer with information, thoughts and povs to ponder upon and be inspired by, right? At least that is what reading and writing is to me. IMHO that is how an author connects with his/her readers.
Finally, to the reason I cried – When I read works from talented authors like you and when their work feeds into the existing norms and mores that SHOULD have been dumped in the Indian ocean a century ago, I feel lost, hurt and hopeless and thus my uncontrollable tears.
To me, picking up a debut novel is like a first date with the author. I am attempting to know the insides of the person through his/her written word. I am critical and judge ruthlessly. Nevertheless, I give my date a TAKE 2 to enthrall me, if I don’t make the connection the first time.
But…but… (Well, what can I say, life comes with lot of st(iff)s and but(t)s, eh?), a word of caution – I’ll not think twice to toss the second book and write off the writer, if Take 2 doesn’t make the cut.
Oh, on a humorous note – You can have winter leaves (holidays) only in winter months. (Location 1809). Also, am stumped to find every character intelligent and street smart in the story. Even Mona (Abhi’s office dame).
There is my two cents worth. I am looking forward to your second book and to a connection with your thought. Hope it paves the path to a life long journey, where the writer and the reader’s thoughts travel in harmony. Cheers and take care. Kind Regards, You-Es-Vee