Posted on Leave a comment

30 Day Book Challenge | A Book that Made me Fall in Love with Reading

So… I have an exam tomorrow And I’m running a temperature. Life’s good. I can’t write. I can’t.

The book that made me fall in love with reading is… Emily Climbs by L.M Montgomery. I talk about it here.

Also, Matildaaaaaa. And Harry Potter. (Duh.)

The book I read as an adult that made me fall in love with reading is Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. Guys, it’s EXCELLENT. It involves a lot of art. I loved  it. I love the atmosphere, the characters, the plot… I’ll review it when I’m alive-ish. Read it ok?

That’s all. Ughhhhh.

I AM GOING TO FAILLLLLLL. Gahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Posted on Leave a comment

30 Day Book Challenge — Day 18 | A Book that Disappointed Me

So you guys feel like the questions on this challenge are getting fairly repetitive? I wonder what the difference is between an overrated book, a book that I hated, and a book that disappointed me. The answer, of course, is that there isn’t much of a difference. But I do need to figure out a difference or I risk the chance of becoming fairly boring and repetitive myself. So I decided that a disappointing book is one which I’d hyped up like crazy in my head but it didn’t live up to those expectations. If you like the book I’m about to talk about, don’t get mad at me. Tastes differ. 🙂

This is a book that I really wanted to like, because I’ve heard excellent things about the author. I read it earlier this year so I remember most of it. It is a memoir, and I love memoirs. I don’t know why I didn’t like it. I know lots of people that did. It sounded like something I would love. It was right up my alley, in fact. Well, shit happens, I guess.

The book I’m talking about it Are My Friends Hanging out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. The word to best describe this book is…half-baked. Good ideas, but poorly executed. I feel like the way she spoke about things were superficial and formulaic. There was not much depth in her stories, each chapter was too short, she tried to say too much in too little space… But I didn’t hate it. She’s pretty funny in parts, even so. I get her. I think she’s pretty funny in general too, like on TV and in interviews and stuff. I just felt underwhelmed by the end of the book. I did like the ending though, I think. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads. 🙂

So yes.

That’s all for now, guys. I know that this post may ironically have left some of you underwhelmed, but there never much to say about something that was just…meh.

Hoot.

–Sin

Posted on 3 Comments

30 Day Book Challenge– Day 16| A Book I Would Recommend to an Ignorant/Close-minded/ Racist Person AND A SURPRISE BOOK REVIEW

I have figured out a way to kill two birds with one stone today because I am a genius! Yessss!

I am not talking about racism/ ignorance/ close-mindedness in the American/ Western sense today, even though those are important too. I feel like enough persons are talking about those issues today already. I did consider recommending Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which are both books I love. In fact, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the books that inspired me to study law and it moves me deeply every time I read it. But… it felt kinda like a cop out to talk about these books and leave it at that.

That’s because that is not the world I live in, though we do share a lot of the issues. The world I inhabit is a lot more complex and a lot more diverse, I guess, and it’s just different. I wanted to think of a book that close-minded/ racist persons of India need to read. And that is why I will be discussing A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

This is a book that I read recently and that I have been struggling to review since because it’s so layered and nuanced and it views the issues faced by common people, especially those from a poor economic background and those from backward castes during the Emergency which was imposed in India from 1975 to 1977. Being an Indian law student, I know a fair bit about what happened during this period and I have very strong feelings and opinions about it, and most of those are negative. I have a deep dislike for Indira Gandhi and her brand of politics, and I also have fears that it’ll be easy to impose another Emergency and turn our country into a dictatorship again. Perhaps permanently this time. It keeps me up at night.

But that is not what this post is going to be about, because if I get started on my opinion about politics, I will never shut up. (Ask my dad. He knows.)

The point of this book, I think, is to explain that these issues faced by these people didn’t begin with the Emergency, and they didn’t end when the Emergency ended. The problems were aggravated during the Emergency because of a suspension of basic human rights, but the point is that, for people living in the remotest areas of our country, especially those from the “untouchable” castes, there never are any human rights. The point of this book is to highlight the prejudices that we all carry towards the lower classes of society. And the point of this book is just to emphasize that human suffering is all around us.

There is a quote at the beginning of the book that I just love:

“Holding this book in your hand, sinking back in your soft armchair, you will say to yourself: perhaps it will amuse me. And after you have read this story of great misfortunes, you will no doubt dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild exaggeration and flights of fancy. But rest assured: this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true”

It just sums everything up so beautifully!

This book is about four persons: a widowed tailor who outsources her work due to her failing eyesight; the two tailors, an uncle and a nephew, who work for her; and a young student who lives in her spare room for a year as her paying guest to supplement her income.

This book is largely set in that period of two years, but it also has rich backstories for each of the four protagonists that go back several years into the past. These stories made me feel deep affection for each of the characters, and I grew to love and understand the motivations of each of their actions and I loved watching them grow and evolve through the novel. I laughed at their jokes and cried when they suffered but I ultimately wanted them to be okay.

Which I guess made this book even more heart-breaking. (Um… should I have said spoiler alert or something?)  I wouldn’t wish these sufferings on anyone but my love for the characters made it that much harder to bear. I think making a character suffer after you’ve come to love them is a literary tool designed to make a book more gut-wrenching and more memorable.

As I said before, India is a country with deep-rooted class, caste and religious divides. Our motto is “Unity in Diversity” but diversity also breeds prejudice. The situation today has improved but in a lot of the country, the sufferings of our fellow humans continue. This book depicts all of that prejudice masterfully and quite gruesomely. I don’t grudge the author for that because the reality is in fact, gruesome. He tells us the truth of those times where basic human rights were suspended for ‘productivity’ and ‘beautification’, but mostly to keep a corrupt person and her and her son’s deranged experimental, paternalistic policies in power.

More people need to know what our fellow humans are suffering and that’s where this book comes in.

You know, I have an issue with the fact that this question clubbed in ‘ignorant’ with ‘close-minded’ and ‘racist’. If you’re only ignorant, just fix that. Research, read, learn. It’s what we’re all trying to do, right? On that note, go ahead and pick up this book. Rohinton Mistry is a brilliant story teller and this story will stay with you for a very long time.

When put in the context of recommending this book, reviewing became a lot easier. 🙂 Do read this book. I absolutely recommend it to everyone. I know a few people who aren’t from India as well who love this book. It’s just… it’s excellent.

Hoot

–Sin

Posted on Leave a comment

30 Day Book Challenge — Day 15 | Books that Should be on High School/ College Required Reading Lists

Sorry about posting late. I had another paper due today and I literally submitted it and wrote this 10 min later. Also, I apologise for the pedantic tone of this post. I mean well. Really.

I actually have two books that ought to be required reading material for everybody regardless of if they are in high school/college or just adults going about their lives.

The first one is a novel. It is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This is an adult dystopian novel, which is one of my favourite genres, as I’ve mentioned before. It is a book in which firemen track down and set fires to books instead of putting them out. Reading books is forbidden and televisions are the order of the day. Thinking and being eccentric in general are frowned upon because thinking breeds dissatisfaction. Essentially, people aren’t allowed to be different in any way because that leads to trouble. Instead, they are allowed mindless distractions.

A lot of people have focussed on the book burning aspect in this book but I can’t help feeling like that isn’t actually the point. When books were burnt during the Nazi regime or whenever else, there was a lot of silent outrage felt against the burnings and they weren’t ALL books, but only the books that dissented against the ruler at the time. The thing that struck me about this book is that all books are uniformly burnt, and nobody seems to oppose it except for the people who secretly hoard the books. It’s more all-pervasive and nobody really cares that it’s happening. The book burning part at least didn’t strike me as part of a reign of terror but something nobody really cares about. I can’t help feeling like that’s how most of us treat major issues today because they have more than enough distractions from the real problems that other people may be facing, whatever those problems may be. I too am guilty of this,because it’s just easier to bury one’s head in the sand than to admit that there’s this massive problem that I possibly can’t do anything about. There isn’t enough awareness or dialogue about these problems either. And that is depressing.

It is what struck me about this book as well as about Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I feel like a tyrannical or corrupt government doesn’t need terror to keep people in check anymore because most people compliantly ignore them when supplied with sufficient distractions. I chose to talk about this one, however, because Ray Bradbury seems to be promoting “book learning” in a time when it is dying out. Book sales are declining and book stores are shutting and this just breaks my heart.

The other book that everyone needs to read (At least everyone in India) is Everybody Loves a Good Drought by P. Sainath. He’s a journalist who toured a bunch of villages and interviewed them about how well-meaning government policy actually influenced them. This book is a collection of short articles on that topic. (Hint: It was a fiasco.) Poor implementation, corruption, neglect, bureaucratic barriers are all shown in this book in the form of anecdotes. They are written with wry humour. This book taught me so much. I have my senior to thank for recommending this book to my Constitutional Law class.

Hoot

Sin

Posted on 1 Comment

30 Day Book Challenge –Day 7| Most Underrated Book

I’m in college! And the weather is nice! And I have insanely fast lan! -Cheering and clapping- I have paper submissions and exams coming up which are sort of party-poopers though. 🙁

I don’t know what underrated means, exactly. So I’m going to answer with one book for each of the meanings. (I am, in fact, trying to squeeze in a mention to as many of the books that I love throughout this challenge because I want all of them to feel my love and the love of other people as  much as possible. IWANT THESE BOOKS TO BE A PART OF YOUR LIFE, MAN!)

Okay, the first possible meaning of the term “underrated book” could be any book that has received as much attention as it deserves. The injustice of this rankles even more if the author’s other books are popular, but this one isn’t. Why? Why would anyone do that? Huh? Why?!

The book that comes to mind which has definitely not received an appropriate amount of attention is… The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I read this book earlier this year, and I enjoyed it so much. I had just read Pride and Prejudice unabridged for the first time then, and then I read The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, and then I read fan-fiction about Pride and Prejudice. Basically, I was going nuts over Victorian novels when I found this book during my customary book store visit and bought it because it caught my fancy, and because I’d heard good things about the Virgin Suicides but I couldn’t find that. Aaaand there it is! You know? This book is so good! Why isn’t it liked on its own merits?! Why had I never heard of it? Whyyyyy? This is an excellent book about the interplay between the love of Classic romance and feminism. 🙂 I like the characters a lot. It’s written in the first person by the female protagonist who’s part of a love triangle. It sounds dull but the character development is so arresting that I flew through it in a day and a half. The storyline is good and I LOVE the ending. This book deserves attention on its own merit. I haven’t read The Virgin Suicides yet, so maybe it’s better. I don’t know. But this one is good too! It deserves attention! GIVE IT ATTENTION!

Okay, I’ve calmed down now. 😛

Now, I will talk about a book that actually god BAD ratings which actually deserves excellent ratings. (Er… in my opinion.) The book I am talking about is… The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. 

Ok, let’s all just sit down and face facts. This woman is a genius. Everything she writes in every genre is amazing. Casual Vacancy came at a time when I was over fantasy and into a lot of dark post-modern fiction and it was PERFECTION. I am not joking right now. It is one of the best books I’ve read ever, and I feel like she captured the complexity of human character and emotion so well! I feel like people continued to expect something Harry Potter-esque (And I love Harry Potter very much too, as anyone who’s following my blog would know.) It isn’t fair you know? It goes back to what I said before about certain books of authors being popular. This poor book is in the shadow of her previous masterpiece and it isn’t fair because this book is a masterpiece in its own right. Authors don’t usually change genres so drastically so maybe that’s why people struggled to get into this book because of their expectations from her. Maybe? This may especially be the case with people who continued to read mostly Young Adult fantasy after Harry Potter. That’s what I think.

JKR’s writing in this book is very British, the setting is also fabulously British and the storylines of all of those and the way it was all woven together just overwhelmed me. It was perfect. I cannot say it often enough. It was amazing! The beginning was slow but it set the scene of a sleepy town in Britain so well. I cannot comprehend why people would not love this intimate portrait of terrifying flawed but real people. I just can’t. My best friend loved this book as much as me and when she told me we were in the minority I was genuinely startled. Please give this book another chance. Forget that it’s by JKR momentarily. It’s worth it. 🙂

Well, that’s it for now. 🙂

Hoot.

–Sin

It’s 11.59.  I am cutting it close! 😛

Posted on Leave a comment

30 Day Book Challenge — Day 3 |My Favourite Series

I am being so good about this! I’ve already started this post, and it’s only noon. Let’s hope that this zeal continues to last, especially in November, when I have exams. (Is this foreshadowing for bleak times to come, Sindhu? Uh…maybe?)

Okay, my favourite series in life is Harry Potter. In fact, the various books of Harry Potter are my go-to answers for a LOT of these questions. But I won’t mention them. (Except to say that I won’t mention them… Yeah. Logic.) The reason for that is obvious. It’s that it would make things REALLY boring.

Also, I’m assuming here that a series is every story that has more than one book in it, including trilogies. 

Ok, I’ve decided to cheat a bit on this question and name one series which has ended and one which is ongoing which I’ve loved so far because both these are amazing.

I don’t read a lot of series and trilogies because most series and trilogies are fantasy related and that’s usually just not my cup of tea. (Yes yes. The horror! Bring on the brickbats!) OF course, there are a few fantasy authors that I really do like such as Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, etc though I’ve read exactly one trilogy by each of them and no more. I liked the ones I read. Most of the books I read are standalones, most are post-modern books, although I also read a lot of classics, and I like it that way.

Now there’s also this new trend where every trilogy is dystopian young adult and I jumped on the bandwagon for the first couple (Hunger Games and Divergent, basically.) but now they’re just everywhere and the premises are just so strange and they’re a combination of paranormal and dystopian and there’s just not enough focus on the hopelessness of the situation… They’re not even REALLY Dystopian I think. They’re just fantasy novels in different universes.

My favourite genre is in fact, dystopian, which is why I have strong opinions on this subject. A Clockwork Orange, anyone? Now THAT’S a bleak book! Which is as it should be.

Anyway, onto my favourite series/ trilogy that has ended, ie. in which all of the books have already been published:

The winner is… The Gameworld Trilogy by Samit Basu. Now, this is an Indian fantasy series, and it is hilarious, dark, adventuous and completely fabulous. I am in love with both of the main characters, Maya and Kirrin and they are also one of my main ‘ships‘. (Click on that if you don’t know what a ‘ship’ is. What rock have you been living under? Huh? I only found out what the hell it was at the beginning of the year, but whatever.) Maya is one of the most badass female leads in the history of forever. Guys. Guys. Read these. Please. Samit Basu deserves far more love and attention than he gets. It transcends borders. And his world builfding? -Phwoar- That’s the sound my mind made when it was blown. READ THIS. OR FACE MY WRATH.

Now, onto the ongoing series that is my current favourite, or at the very least, my most anticipated series ending-book-release of 2015. This series is somewhat dystopian, I think, and they’re fairytale retellings. They are also set in the future in a world where humans, cyborgs and androids all co-exist. I know right? WHAT! THEY’RE SO GOOD. They’re immaculately thought out, fascinating and familiar and yet, so original at the same time. If you haven’t already guessed what I am talking about, I am talking about the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer. The first book, Cinder, is a retelling of Cinderella. The second, Scarlet, is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. The Third, Cress, is a retelling of Rapunzel. The third one is my favourite. 🙂 There are two more books due to come out. One is a prequel and one is the final book of the series and I MA DYING TO GET MY HANDS ON THEM. I want to know. I can’t wait to know. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. Yes. Give this series a chance for sure. It may seem formulaic in this day and age because of the dystopian/fantast/sci-fi young adult thing but it’s refreshingly original and amazing.

Also, the opinions expressed about fantasy, etc/, in this post are very personal and I don’t think it’s a comment on the actual quality of the book, but just a comment on what I enjoy reading. I hope i didn’t offend anyone. 🙂

So yes. Until tomorrow,

Hoot.

–Sin

Posted on Leave a comment

We Need to Talk about Kevin|Book Review

The book I’ll be reviewing today is We Need to Talk about Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. I read it earlier on in the year, I think, in early September, but I wasn’t blogging then, and I really want to talk about this book.

I read about it in John Waters’ memoir, Role Models, ((If anyone is wondering, it’s a crazy-ass book with laugh-out-loud moments and I recommend it to anybody who isn’t conservative in their tastes because yeah, calling it off-beat would be a bit of an understatement, guvnor! ßThat was an Easy A reference, just FYI) in a chapter dedicated solely to book recommendations. I have often found that if memoirs have chapters dedicated solely to book recommendations, or favourite books, my liking for said memoir goes up exponentially. And if I happen to like any of the recommended books, my liking for the writer of that memoir goes up exponentially. Strange-ish coincidence I think? But I digress.

We Need to Talk about Kevin is one dark, effed-book, which obviously means I thoroughly enjoyed it. (This may not be obvious yet, since this is a new blog, but it will be. Especially after I post my 14 favourites of 2014.)  It’s very well-written and it just sucks you in and makes you feel the bleakness that the narrator feels throughout the book. I was very sad for the one and a half days I was racing through this book and for a bit of time after. It gave me a book hangover. (This term, for those who are unfamiliar, refers to a phenomenon where a book is just so good that you can’t pick up another one for a while, during which time you marinate and think about just how good (and terrifying) the book was.)

This book is about a boy named Kevin who, 3 days short of his 16th birthday, commits a mass massacre at his school and is then convicted and imprisoned for it. As I said before, it’s written from the perspective of Eva, Kevin’s mother who is attempting to come to terms with the incident almost two years after it occurred.

This book gives us the unique perspective of a mass murderer’s family, and how they deal with this terrible thing that their offspring has done. We see that Eva is also ostracised for Kevin’s behaviour within the community where they live, and that she even gets sued by one of the victim’s mothers for negligent parenting. This is a side we never get to see, I think and it really fascinated me and drew me in.

The book is very one-sided in a way, because one only gets to see Eva’s side of things, and never Kevin’s. She’s a very atypical mother who seems to distrust and almost dislike Kevin from the start, and her descriptions of him are terrifying, because he honestly sounds like the world’s worst baby and toddler. I kept telling myself to take it in with a pinch of salt especially because Eva was a person who never wanted to be a mother, and felt that she lacked the maternal instinct since before she got pregnant, throughout her pregnancy and even after giving birth, but talked herself into doing it anyway, because of what can only be described as a whim.  But then, I remember that he actually killed a bunch of people and then I wondered, what if Eva’s descriptions are accurate and Kevin was actually born being a so-called ‘bad person’? Throughout this book, I wondered, did her lack of affection make Kevin the way he is, or is he just born an unlovable child? Of course, I can never make up my mind, because all we have is Eva’s point of view. It left me in a state of limbo throughout the book which added to the feeling and confusion and tension in the book. And it interests me greatly that Kevin’s shooting is not the climax of the story and the climax is something completely different, which is both amazing and terrifying at the same time.

This is an amazing book, even though the ending was a little weak in my opinion. I still gave it 5 stars on Goodreads because it really had a massive impact on me. I actually wondered what it would be like to have a child and to know that there’s something severely, terrifyingly ‘off’ about them and being completely helpless to do anything about it.

Read it when you’re relatively cheerful and read it slowly, in small doses, but definitely read this one. 🙂

Ooh and this book is perfect for the Halloween themed reads everyone has been doing.

On that note,

Hoot

-Sin

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Past Continuous | Book Review

I’ve only read two books so far this month, and that’s quite slow by my standards. The worst part is, I’ve read so little despite having a lot of time because I’ve spent a lot of time on Youtube trying to work up the courage to start making videos of my own.

I’ve just finished Past Continuous by Neel Mukherjee and it’s left me quite unhappy, not because it isn’t good, but because it’s disturbing. Which obviously means that I loved it! I will post a review, or try to, because I have no idea how to dissect this book, and it is a book which requires a lot of dissection.

For starters, it tells two stories, one of the main character Ritwik, reading English literature in England and the other, the story of a British lady in Colonial India in the 1890’s, which Ritwik is writing. This book terrified me because the tool employed was that of the ‘unreliable narrator’ because the life Ritwik is leading has strange echoes from the novel he’s writing. Their stories intertwine in mind-boggling ways which make you question Ritwik’s reality, which the author has no trouble whatsoever in convincing the reader to accept as her own reality too. That effect is disquieting, to say the least.

Additionally, this book also deals with themes of child abuse, the effects of growing up in poverty, sexual abuse, etc. But that’s not the main reason I wanted to read this book. I’ve owned this book for about a year already, and I’d bought it on a whim without knowing anything about it.

It was not on my original TBR list for this month, as you’d know if you’ve seen that post. And then I read an excerpt of an interview of the author (Who’s just been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his second book, The Lives of Others. Yes, I own that one as well) and I discovered a crucial fact: The protagonist Ritwik Ghosh is gay. I am a huge LGBTQ supporter and I feel like gay protagonists are hugely under-represented in literature, especially in Indian literature, but in general too. I wanted to see how Neel Mukherjee manages his representation, so I picked up this book, off-schedule, since it still went with my Indian authors theme for the month.

After reading the book, I found the fact that the novel wasn’t about his homosexuality pretty refreshing. I feel like gay(or bisexual or lesbian or transgender) persons can’t be seen to be accepted as such if their sexuality continues to be the main ‘theme’ of any pop-culture of which they are a part. I feel like this dehumanises us somehow. On the other hand, Ritwik is depicted as a person with very real struggles, ideas, needs, distinct from being gay. I love that. Despite this, it still made a reasonably accurate representation of the furtive struggles and fears of a closeted gay man trying to find a sexual partner in the 1990’s in England.

However, this aspect isn’t the focus of this novel. The focus of the novel of Ritwik’s journey into life as an illegal immigrant from being a scholarship English Literature student. It’s about his relationship with his dead mother who still haunts his thoughts with the burden of her all-consuming, dependent love which leads her to become abusive. It’s about his frustration at the seeming opacity of the character of the protagonist in his novel, which is a frustration everyone who writes knows so very well. It’s about his friendships with people, which are necessarily transient due to his illegal immigrant status.

Ritwik, in my opinion, is one of the most real, most relatable, yet complicated characters I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. He’s a character I’d be proud to have written. I dream of writing about a contradictory character like him all the time, but I’m too scared to because I feel like I may step into the realms of the absurd.

I almost gave this book five stars of Goodreads, but I haven’t because of a couple of loose ends, including a couple of characters on whom I didn’t get enough closure. The novel doesn’t aim at closure, of course, quite the opposite, but the author’s treatment of a couple of characters, like Aritra, Ritwik’s brother was just not believable to me. I don’t want to give anything else away so I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

I’ll think about this book and about Ritwik for a long time yet. I feel like my review didn’t do justice to all of the various layers in this book, but I could write a thesis on it if I tried, and this isn’t the appropriate forum to post that!

I’ll stop here, hoping that I piqued the interests of at least one person to read it!

That’s all I guess.

Hoot.

-Sin

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Em and the Big Hoom | Book Review

The book I’m going to review today is Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto.

I have not written a book review in so long. My previous blog (Yes, I’ve had several blogs that I ground into obscurity every time I emerge from a fresh bout of writer’s block.) was to consist primarily of book reviews and that was its undoing, I think. I read a series of books which overwhelmed me and I just did not know how to review them without spoiling them and without sounding repetitive about how much I love them and then I just stopped reviewing books, and panicked at the thought of reviewing one. This particular doozy took me a full 3 days to write to my satisfaction, and it’s still halting in parts… I’m just going to go ahead and post before I change my mind. In the future, may be I’ll do wrap-ups in the style of booktubers to talk about what I’ve been reading briefly. 

</end typical long winded rant>

In my last post, I had said that I was currently reading this book and that I loved it so far. News Update: I do love it!

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you guys. This is one of the best books I’ve read by an Indian author. Not that I’ve read too many books by Indian authors, but I’m remedying that now.

Anyway, this is also the best book I’ve read representing somebody with a mental illness after The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. (If you haven’t read it yet, why the hell not?! Go go go. Read it right now. My blog isn’t a quarter as interesting)

I’m not saying that the books are similar; they aren’t—at all— (For starters, they deal with different mental illnesses!) but this book is reminiscent of that one in its kind and balanced approach, which doesn’t sugar-coat the toll mental illness may take on the affected person, and their family, but that also doesn’t demonise the person. In fact, Pinto probably faced a greater challenge doing this because this book wasn’t from the perspective of the person with the mental illness, Imelda Mendes, ‘Em’ to her children, ‘Beloved’ to her husband, but that of her son, from the time he is around 10 years old, to when he is in his early 20’s.

The book consists entirely of remembered conversations between the boy and his family, letters and journal entries written by his mother and his actual thoughts about these which makes for interesting changes in voice throughout the book. I liked that.

It is written retrospectively, and has a hazy, reminiscing quality to it, but at the same time, it truly describes the narrator’s dominant feelings of pity, fear and frustration in equal measure, as well as the suffering he saw his mother go through. In the true style of reminisces, it is written in a non-linear fashion, each story, each incident, weaving together seamlessly, giving an actual glimpse into the claustrophobic one-bedroom house in sweltering 1980’s Mumbai.

My favourite character in the book is the titular Big Hoom, the father, the husband, the family’s rock. He’s a little two-dimensional but reading about him made me feel warm inside.

This book is so honest and uncensored, it broke my heart. The ending soothed and moved me at the same time. I do so love a book that is set in India but that isn’t about India or about living in India… if that makes sense. I also love books about living in India, but I love these more. I actually do so love a well-written book about anything set anywhere, to be honest.

I don’t even know why I need to say this at this point, but I highly recommend this book. Read it. And yes, you can thank me in advance. 😛

Hoot.

–Sin