Book Review: Ananya-A Bitter sweet Journey
Author: Shilpa Gupta
Rating: Three and a half
Publisher: Rupa Publications, New Delhi
When Shilpa Gupta contacted me to review Ananya, I expected the book to be light romance but it turned out to be gritty and powerful in depicting the struggle of a teenager, Anu, who suddenly finds herself facing the dark cum grim reality of life. A book that deals with calf love, idealized romance which is dreamed by every teenage and the hard reality life is made of. As a first timer, the author has beautifully merged light romance with hard-hitting struggle of someone who suddenly comes face-to-face with destiny. The author makes a strong statement on harbored prejudices, friendship gone sour and the battle one faces in life when all hell breaks loose. The book, Ananya, is treated with utmost sensibility in showcasing the life of the character who is at the cross-road of life and how she faces society. It’s a unique book that treats a difficult subject with so much competence and it will not leave you unmoved at the end.
Meet Ananya Sharma, not your regular, teenage girl-next-door. At school, she is passionate about math and the sciences, and completely focussed on cracking the IIT entrance exams. But when distraction enters her life in the form of the handsome and charming Rohit, Ananya discovers love, longing and betrayal, all at once. Finding herself pregnant at the age of seventeen, she learns that the world is a very different place once you are on its wrong side. The discovery of the fault lines in her parents’ relationship—which until then had seemed perfect to her—further breaks her.
The author has tapped the struggle and hormonal growth in the life of a regular adolescent and brilliant student, Ananya, who doesn’t lack any material comfort or friendship in her world but somewhere the love balance and emotional quotient is missing. The way Shilpa describes Ananya’s school life, gang and falling in love for the first time with Rohit-You know this magical feeling of being on cloud 9 and excitement, right?-wants to make you fall in love with love. The romance angle has been done with natural ease and as one feels, that the novel is veering toward a fairy love tale, the Chetan Bhagat way, the whole narration alters in a dramatic way. The reader doesn’t have time to react on the sequence of events. The narration is engrossing and engaging where Ananya is suddenly thrown in the world of grown-ups. The emotional turmoil that Ananya faces as her world become darker suddenly becomes our own struggle in the journey of life. The story is captivating in the way the emotions has been explored and the character’s equation with her parents, friendship gone sour and relatives who reject her. Shilpa has taken an issue which is very prevalent in society where a child, lacking love at home, may go to extreme and try to find it with the wrong person.
The readers will relate to the story of Ananya, who is a vulnerable young girl and how a moment of weakness alters the course of her life. It throws lid on society that shun someone on account of prejudice in our mind and our clouded beliefs on something we understand the least. The reference to parents, who make work their priority, oblivious to the pain felt by children, tears the heart out.
“A large portion of my life was made of Mom saying’..will make it up for you. I thought one more of this, one more of being the second priority in their lives, wouldn’t hurt. But somehow it did.” It’s a powerful reflection, echoing the lives and struggle of teenagers.
The book also refers to friendship where old ones become alien as a pillar of support but new and unflinching bond are carved. Ananya’s visit to her Nani (Grand mother) house where she is gently shown the beauty of life and the former’s wisdom plays a pivotal part in making her come to terms with life. “Anu, beta, only when gold is tempered in fire does it shine best.’ The words of wisdom leads to Ananya seeing sense in a world that dealt her a blow in life and finally, love conquers all with Amit, Dev, Sanjana and Nandini.
The book slightly drifts apart towards the end with the description of Ananya’s equation with each of her buddies and it seems that a sub-plot has been created that clashes with the main theme. It appears like a diary sort of thing. Moreover, I feel that the conflict could have been explored further between Ananya and her parents, on their lack of attention and more dialogues with Moh would have been desirable before they drift apart.
“It’s a friendship that we have Ananya, and a very special one too. It is not buying goods from a bania that you are talking about repaying.”
Ananya-A bitter Sweet Journey, will touch your heart in the way the character and her surrounding has been dealt in a sensitive manner. For her first book, Shilpa Gupta deserves full marks for making a powerful impact with a subject that reflects the lives of teenagers, confusions in their lives and complexity of growing ups. It’s a book that I recommend not just to parents, teenagers but to everyone. A must read.
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