When I began reading the book, I thought it would be the usual, predictable story about how two friends meet, become close, and then find out that they love each other. While the story does broadly follow this path, it is anything but an average love story. Immensely relatable and extremely well-written (without borrowing turns of phrase from American novels—something I find quite annoying), the book is just the kind I would pick to read on a rainy afternoon, accompanied by a steaming cup of masala chai.
Kazi describes Preeti’s disturbing past (one of the protagonists) with great sensitivity and without judgement. What I especially liked was the author’s portrayal of Preeti’s parents—he doesn’t vilify them for the decisions they made with respect to Preeti and her brother, he doesn’t even try to overtly justify their actions.
He simply presents the situation as seen through a young child’s eyes. Did Preeti’s parents do the right thing when they pushed her to pursue a computer engineering course despite knowing that she had a condition that made it difficult for her to process numbers? You get to draw your own conclusions and form an opinion.
Sameer’s initial depiction as the guy who is unnaturally jovial and gregarious, loves to cook mouth-watering dishes, and has a group of happy-go-lucky friends, seems a bit much until you stumble upon the truth. And the truth comes out quite late in the story, so I was constantly wondering whether I think Sameer is the good guy or just a playboy.
Sameer is close to Preeti and enjoys her company immensely, yet displays no overt signals that he’s head-over-heels in love with her. Why? The answer to this question, too, comes much later—and in one astounding reveal, courtesy Tara (a friend), everything becomes clear. It is here that the story takes a turn that I had not quite expected. That Preeti, who had been subdued and withdrawn for the most part, would suddenly resolve to embark on a wild-goose chase, seemed incomprehensible. We’re told this is a true story—so I guess the truth really is stranger than fiction.
Kazi’s writing deserves special mention—he has nailed the way young Indians speak, with just the right amount of Hindi words thrown in. He describes emotions and situations without resorting to clichés and I loved the original similes he has used. He doesn’t ignore minor characters—they’re developed enough to meaningfully contribute to the story.
I’d recommend this book wholeheartedly, especially if you enjoy romance. Don’t expect it to be saccharine sweet. Instead, it is better described as a love story with a good dose of realism and a smattering of adventurous thrill.
(I was offered a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)