Book Review — Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

Eden Rose McKinley and Bonnie Wiston-Stanley are bestfriends. Eden is as untameable as Bonnie is responsible and ambitious. They share all of their secrets with each other. Or so Eden thought. But one day, Bonnie just takes off, leaving Eden to deal with the repercussions of a world that comes crashing down around her. It soon comes out in the open that Bonnie has decided to flee with her music teacher, Mr. Cohn. While the police and Bonnie’s parents are chasing every clue to track them down, Eden can’t help but wonder who she is without Bonnie and if their friendship was even genuine.

Image Courtesy – Goodreads

It was such a pleasant surprise to realize that this book is nothing like a typical YA contemporary. Sure it has its share of gossiping high schoolers and rebellious teenagers, but the entirety of Goodbye, Perfect focuses on what it feels like to be left behind by someone you loved and trusted the most. There are snippets of chats, newspaper articles that bind the story together. I liked the portions where Eden looks back on conversations she’s had with Bonnie, which under the present circumstances help us understand what nudged Bonnie into running away. Sara Barnard’s writing is neither over the top, nor too simple for the plot she is going after. It is her characterization and depiction of heartbreak that takes the cake!

The torrent of emotions that Eden goes through pulls at our heartstrings. On the one hand, she wants to support Bonnie when everyone is badmouthing her. But deep within, she harbors a sense of hurt and anger at Bonnie’s reckless actions. In a way, it shows that she’s gullible. Eden makes herself out to be the anti-hero, lashing out at her family and not caring about her academics, when she so clearly wants to belong somewhere, to someone. Her relationship with Connor was one of the cutest and refreshing things about this book. Some of the narrative showed just how mature Eden could be, then at other times she wouldn’t be able to think rationally. The stigma of adoption, labeling children based on their upbringing, academic pressure by society are some issues that have been addressed in this novel and I commend the author for doing that in a sensitive manner. I love how supportive and warm Eden’s family is, in comparison to that of Bonnie’s.

Final verdict – It’s a lovely book, that I would recommend to everyone who has ever felt misunderstood, or burdened or lost and to everyone who enjoys contemporary stories.

Ratings – 4 out of 5 stars

What do you get out of it? An epistolary novel that’s all about deconstructing labels and understanding the intricacies of friendship, expectations, society etc.

Review copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan India

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It’s Not Your Fault

A friend of mine once said, “Being close to somebody is about how they make you feel.” This couldn’t be more true. We cling to the people who make us feel strong, special and worthy of good things. We gravitate towards those who can give us what we’re looking for from life – be it fame, money or just a social circle to fall back on. But what happens when, as time passes, they’re no longer the person you used to identify with? Maybe you feel the need to justify their changed behavior and you are wont to accepting them nevertheless. But there’s also a fair chance that you just can’t “go with the flow”. And that’s okay.

Like me, you may be standing at that point in life where your only human interactions are with your family (if you’re an adult living with your folks, that is) and/or select friends via social media. You may be wondering what happened to all those hour long conversations with your bestfriend(s) from school or college. You may be seeing them in a new light. In between all that, you may also be questioning yourself as to “What went wrong?” The answer is nothing. It’s not up to you or me to prevent someone from being who they wish to be. Neither are we obliged to deal with a relation that has grown toxic.

All of my experiences has taught me one important thing, amongst others. If you appreciate or value somebody, make sure they know it. Cause there will come a time when engaging in small talk with said person would be a strain. We’re all caught in the throes of keeping up with today. And so it’s only likely that we would grow and flourish in the way we know how to. It’s only likely that people will grow apart for a hundred different reasons. A shuffle in priorities, conflict of interests, distance and on goes the list. But you can’t possibly hold it against them for choosing to walk away or yourself. In a world of no-strings-attached, guarded conversations and rising number of online “followers”, you ought to consider yourself lucky for having enjoyed something meaningful, even if for a short while.

Sometimes, bestfriends become strangers and families get estranged. That’s how it is.

This is something I should have understood a long time back. Perhaps, it’s something you’d like to hear now.

Anyhow, the festive season is here and I truly wish y’all a fantastic end to this year!

xx

TV Show Recommendations – If You Like Jane The Virgin…

TV series’ like Jane The Virgin are full of feels. They bag the family drama, romance and self-growth aspects like a pro! JTV, in particular, is one of my all time favourites. Not just because Jane’s character is super easy to relate to, but because of how well Gina Rodriguez brings that character to life and makes you want to be a part of her family. Watching the three (extremely short for my liking) seasons was a journey full of retrospection and wistful musings, for a TV show junkie like me. The manner in which her attitude towards life, passions, morals have been delineated allows us to believe in the power of perseverance and unity. It mirrors the success she ultimately experiences, while teaching us how wonderful it is to aspire. Hell, she doesn’t even let an unplanned insemination get in the way of her becoming an author! You couldn’t possibly have a better excuse than hers.

Here are some other television shows that grant us our daily dose of dramatic goodness, while urging us to follow our dreams:

  • The Carrie Diaries- Carrie Bradshaw knows how to take risks. When her law internship appears bleak in comparison to the job next door at Interview magazine, she jumps at the chance. With her charm, diligence and wit, she persuades Larissa, the editor to give her a full time job. Living the high life in Manhattan, Carrie comes to terms with making difficult choices with regards to education, friendship, love and family. The Carrie Diaries makes you fall in love with life all over again.


  • Younger – This is an endearing story of 40 going on 20. Liza, a divorced mother, realizes that while she was living her life as a wife and a mother, her career slipped out of her grasp. Now that she is ready to resume work in the publishing field, nobody wants to hire a 40 year old. So what does she do? She rebuilds her identity as a 26 year old, trying to fit into a world she had left behind. Her zeal for life is magically renewed donning this “younger” skin. Younger is a hearty TV series that explores the publishing industry through the eyes of Liza’s double persona.

  • Girlboss- Sophia is an eccentric character, barely surviving on her own. She has cut off all ties with family and friends alike, keeping only Annie (her bestfriend) by her side. She lucks out when a thrift shopping episode opens her eyes to the world of vintage fashion. After much deliberation, struggle and self-doubt, her eBay store gains momentum, with her refurbishing and selling vintage clothes. In the span of the 13 part series, we see Sophia unfurl and become a much better version of herself. She is a testament to what dedication to one’s job looks like. There’s a good deal of humor, sass and fashion in this show to make you want to binge watch.

  • Famous in Love – Paige, an ambitious college student, swings by a movie audition simply because her bestfriend insisted. Now, she has landed the lead role in the movie and has no idea how to juggle between her normal life and the one behind all the glitz and glamor. Friendships fall through the roof as new ones reserve a spot in her life. Does following one’s heart have to be so expensive?


  • The Bold Type – Three bestfriends, Jane, Sutton and Kat work for Scarlet magazine as an article writer, social media manager and fashion aspirant respectively. In a highly competitive and talent-driven world, these women experience the highs and lows of baring their soul to the society. You see, the devil may always come to collect his prize, but the social media trolls make life in hell look like a vacation. Filled with work woes, swoon-worthy relationships and mesmerizing shots of NYC, The Bold Type is quickly making its way up my favourites list.

There’s more than two months left for Jane The Virgin’s next season; enough time to indulge in the above mentioned lovelies. They are overflowing with empowered women and drool-inducing career paths. As a media graduate, writer and avid reader, these shows are my calling; their locations are undoubtedly made of Siren songs. Let me know if I’ve missed out any other TV shows that inspire you to give your absolute best each day. We all need such feel-good, quality content!

The Vampire Diaries

Dear Diary,

Art is a form of magic that weaves itself into the lives of others. You can’t help but be affected by it. Everyone may not agree with your art, but it’s your expression and ought to be as untethered, as you see fit. The Vampire Diaries was one such outlet of expression, a story built by a circle of arms. It started out as a quintessential paranormal mystery, interspersed with dramatic elements. But what it built on, were the ideals of love, family and friendship. For this very reason, it stuck with me. For eight whole years. Albeit, the show had its ups and downs, it was so imbued with a sense of camaraderie. Bonnie’s innate selflessness, just as she dejectedly confides in Enzo, “I never get to have my chance.” is a stark portrayal of the lengths, one is willing to go when their loved ones are in jeopardy. And that sums up a major portion of the 8 seasons. Adversity always strikes Mystic Falls. A slew of characters are required to make ginormous sacrifices in order to save the day. But the point is that, they do. They are always “feeling epic”.

Despite the whole lot of bloodshed and heart-ripping-out scenes, it is the promise of a better day, that kept us glued to the show. It is the realization that, even if things are despicable, somebody would make amends. We need it in life, the knowledge that bonds are thicker than blood.

The amount of twists and turns in this show would leave you reeling. Kudos to Julie Plec, for bringing to life one of the most complicated plots and for delivering it in such a believable manner. The loopholes that play an integral role in this show, bring Vonnegut’s quote to mind, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” You’d think that there was no way a certain character could be brought back to life. But, no! Think again.

Backed by a brilliant cast, an array of supernatural creatures and a stupendous soundtrack, what’s not to like? The series finale was the cherry on top, a delicate ending that glows with larger than life symbols. Many of the former characters make an appearance – Lexi, Aunt Jenna, Jeremy, Joe, Sheriff Forbes, Tyler, Vicki. They have come  full circle. Seeing the Salvatore brothers reunite, is absolutely blissful. Throughout the show, they function like the scales of justice. When one of them is taking turns in being notorious, the other tries to be noble.

The ending narration is a whiff of life, full of hope, “… Because peace exists. It lives in everything we hold dear. That is the promise of peace. That one day, after a long life, we find each other again. ” Beautiful, isn’t it? I believe this peace and love upholds the show.

*happy tears* TVD, you will be missed.

– Meera

 

Book Review — Colorful Notions by Mohit Goyal

Thank you Writers Melon for a copy of this book for review 🙂

Image courtesy – Goodreads

Mohit Goyal’s Colorful Notions brings together the essence of roadtrips, the cultural delights of India and the lives of three twenty year olds in this hearty novel. Abhay, Sashank and Unnati, hailing from Delhi, decide to embark on a sojourn that will test not only their physical and mental strengths, but also their perception of life. A meticulously planned trip unravels to show them how wonderfully surprising life can be, as they experience the greatest thrills, griefs and self-awareness that they have ever come to terms with. Each carry their own baggage, ready to learn something new from this drastic change of scene.

As intriguing as the synopsis is, the novel is in fact far more captivating. A roadtrip with India as the backdrop is something I’ve never read before and so I was pleasantly surprised how so many destinations could be covered in the matter of few pages, yet not diluting the experience for the reader. The characterization of the protagonist is so strong that after a point of time, you begin to get fully absorbed into the accounts. That being said, I didn’t like Abhay’s character very much. He is the quintessential antihero. Whereas Sashank and Unnati had decent character arcs, which involved a lot of bickering and patching up.

Much like many other novels, there were cliches in the plot. Like that of the rich brat, the duff, love triangle, stereotypical representations of a community etc. While I didn’t like these elements a lot, the key focus being the roadtrip was encapsulated well. The trip, here, qualifies as a harbinger of change. And I quite liked that analogy – of having them challenge their comforts only to get more attuned with themselves. One other thing that irked me a bit is how easily they were roped in by a production house. That part was not as believable as it could have been made. All in all, it is a fun book, definitely worth your time, for it also contributes factually to your knowledge about India. There were aspects that weren’t great, and some which were done well.

Ratings – 3.5 stars on 5

Meera

Of Denials and Freefalls

Hemingway once said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.”. Agreed. Our emotions are extremely heightened when we suffer a blow. But life is a game of juxtaposition, of myriad highs and lows – neither of which can truly assuage the other’s grasp on our disposition. So today, I am going to write about what makes me feel alive, what crackles on the surface and dives deep with the frequency of a tuning fork.

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Copyright (c) 2016, Mohan Nair.

Shrouded in denials
And elusive games, I
Was preparing to fly. Soar far
And high.

A lick
Of the future
Was enough to topple
Me. Ah! the magnificence of
The heart.

As the
Ground rushed to meet
Me, embracing winds peeled
Off the inhibitions. Tempted,
I smiled.

We cling
To our pasts for
We know what we want of
Our future. All immersed in ours,
I am.

At first,
there was nothing.
Then I tumbled head first
All limbs and emotions. Now I
Know not
How to be, devoid of that love,
I let course through me. What
Else would I be?
But this.

This new
Self that knows no
Bounds. This new thought, dauntless
And swift. A ricocheting orb
Of hope.

– Meera

Book Review — Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra

Thank you Vibha Batra for sending me a copy of your book for review 🙂

Glitter and Gloss chronicles the love and work life of Misha, a twenty something makeup artist, who unknowingly spites a MVP at an event, only to later realize who he is. Things snowball from there and somehow, her and Akshay’s relationship evolves into a close knit one. But fairytale scenarios do take place in real life too and Misha finds herself battling not only work woes but Akshay’s traditional family who is not too keen on accepting her.

Image courtesy – Goodreads.

While the issue of familial acceptance has been broached a number of times before , I was intrigued by the protagonist’s profession and how that would play a part in the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from the start, At no point does it get draggy or uninteresting. The narration, through the point of view of Misha, is done well. The author makes use of Hindi words to fully convey the essence of the situation through Misha’s perspective and I quite liked that. The element of humor keeps the novel lively all throughout and I was cracking up a lot. The chemistry between Misha and Akshay is great. They make an adorable pair.

I greatly liked reading about her work as it added another dimension to the story. The idea of playing with narrow-minded notions added an interesting flavor to the book. I was glad that Sammy, being a non-gay guy, was shown to be her roommate till the very end (much to the horror of Akshay’s elder sister). Cause if he had been done away with, then it would just fuel the one track mind of society. Poulomi is penned to be the elder sister – bestfriend character. There were some tropes  used that I wasn’t a big fan of. Such as that of the male lead being tall & handsome; that of the conservative Indian family including gossiping aunties. Sometimes I wished that Misha would think more rationally. That way she could have avoided a lot of trouble. Nevertheless, I liked the book on the whole. It makes for a fun read. I’d recommend it to everyone who loves Contemporary Fiction.

Ratings – 3.5 stars on 5.

Meera