Book Review – Home by Manju Kapur

Manju Kapur is perhaps one of those few writers in modern India, whose stories can convey and express, some of the most complicated human emotions in a beautiful simplistic prose. Home is another one of Manju Kapur’s masterpieces, others being – Difficult Daughters, A Married Woman, etc. In what has become characteristic Manju Kapur style, Home is a tale which weaves an enchanting tale of survival and hope from a host of complicated and often disturbing themes ad sub- plots.

The narrative of the book is built around the life and experiences of Nisha, the only granddaughter of a traditional, merchant family of Karol Bagh. Although Nisha remains the main protagonist throughout the book, the tale in the story is of more than three generations of the Banwari lal Family. The novel discusses and brings to light a number of issues which continue to exist in “modern India” from caste, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, female education, objectification of women, but the main focus of the novel, in characteristic Manju Kapur style, remains Marriage and family. The sensitivity with which the author captures the stigma of Barrenness and desperation of a child is worth applauding.

The believable characters, with their relatable struggles and dilemmas combined with the eloquence and grace of Kapur’s writing make this novel capable of transporting one back to the 1990s and adds to the charm of a tale which is already fantastic , in its scope and narrative. At the end of the book, one feels connected to each and every character of the novel., and while one does feel disappointed and frustrated at a number of characters and events, there is no “villain” at the end of the novel. Home very accurately captures the very spirit of upper Middle class Delhi while exposing the hypocrisy and confusion of “family values” in modern urban India.

All in all, if you enjoy realistic portrayals of families and characters then this is one book that you should definitely read .

Sad Girls by Lang Leav

For all those who are not familiar with Lang Leav, let me tell you that she is an internationally bestselling author. Lang Leav has also won the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award along with Churchill Fellowship. I was really intrigued by this book, Sad Girls, the first time I heard about it. Everything about this book builds up so much curiosity that it was uncontainable. The cover has a minimalist sketch of a presumably sad girl while the back only says “A girl who cried wolf; a boy in sheep’s clothing; a killer romance; a deadly secret.”

I just couldn’t bear not knowing what happens in this book, and if I could go back in time, I would probably put off reading it for as long as possible. I found it hard to finish reading this book because of how triggering it is at certain points. For me, personally, this book proved out to be quite unhealthy mostly because it had so many realistic triggers starting with a suicide. Yes, the story revolves around the aftermath of a suicide. There’s an evident guilt there, there’s confusion and there are tears, shed both by the characters and the readers. Someone once told me that grief is the strongest emotion one can feel, and this book makes me believe that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the book, the ending however ruined a perfectly good story.

The story revolves around Audrey, her two best friends, Lucy and Candela, the suicide of Ana and Rad, Ana’s boyfriend.

This story has so many ups and downs, it has hope, it has devastation and it has realistic scenarios. Reading this book was honestly one emotional roller coaster, reading about the pain of losing someone to suicide in a very relatable and realistic way was the highlight of this book, at least for me. It shows the importance for seeking help when it comes to mental health in a positive way, but the portrayal of how a therapist is, according to me was quite unrealistic and deceiving.

After Ana’s funeral, Audrey starts spending a lot of time together with Rad, which causes problems in her relationship as well as with her mother.  Sooner than later, the two put an end to their friendship but they keep finding each other in life.

It is a beautiful story which deals with real issues. The ending however, was unpredictable and strange, it made me cringe and it made me feel like an idiot. I give this book 3/5.