Book Review : ‘White Tears’, by Hari Kunzru

How is this not a movie yet???

One of the most outstanding features of this book is its prose ; visual and lyrical, it draws you in right from the start. Kunzru writes in a way that tickles the mind’s eye, and you feel like you’re the one who’s walking down the street, at a party, driving down to the Deep South and, well those are some of the nicer bits.

The flipside of course is that with prose that’s strongly visual and draws you in, there’s also the challenge of becoming too connected, especially if your own sense of imagination is strong – I’ve had nightmares while reading this  and it is a ghost story, a social horror book, visceral and gut churning.

There are two narrators and therefore two points of view, one in the past, and one in the present, both white males. Linking them like a bridge between time and space, is a black musician named Charlie Shaw. It is his story that forms the backbone of the book, the story of black oppression and white privilege, the story of blues music and ‘White Tears’.

“White Tears” is a phrase used to describe what happens when certain types of white people (particularly Americans) either complain about nonexistent racial injustice, or are upset by by the success of a person of color at the expense of a white person. (Source : Everpedia)

A definite must read if you enjoy noir thrillers, this one comes also with the thought provoking addition of racial injustice as a backdrop to what is a poignant and spooky tale well told.


Book Review : ‘My Brother’s Name is Jessica’, by John Boyne

A boy who chooses to trust his parents with his biggest secret yet – that he identifies as a girl ; a family of two ambitious parents, their two boys, and their fairly settled normal lives, suddenly thrown into chaos because Jason prefers being Jessica, this beautiful book by John Boyne is as poignant as it is profound.
Like his other books this too is a short read, given John Boyne’s admirable skills as a writer at ‘communicating volumes with just a few words’ in his trademark simple style. Here too, a complex and difficult matter is viewed from the lens of a young child, and Boyne has perfected the art of writing with an authentic voice for a certain age group, retaining both perspective and poignancy, and a universal appeal.

The book doesn’t just focus on Jason as the central character, it also throws light into how his choices affect others in the family, and the process of acceptance from them alongside the nuances and layers of what such a process might constitute, from disbelief to denial and ultimately a coming to terms with radical change, often grudgingly. Boyne deftly manages to throw light into the dilemma faced by each pivotal character, especially the Dad, Mum, and younger brother, without removing the spotlight from Jason/Jessica. In doing so, he gives a short but meaningful window into what goes on through the minds of everyone immediately affected by a child’s decision to change their gender identity, from fear of societal opprobrium to bullying and impact on careers and the upsetting of carefully laid out future plans. It’s a painful read too, especially with respect to the parents’ reactions and the fact that for many parents, their children are either an extension of their own identity, or simply a means to an end.

Through the lens of gender identity the book also makes a larger point about empowerment for children, and how it often sits at odds with parents who for most parts would just want their kids to obey them in all ways, while pretending that they are better at parenting than their own parents were with them in their time. What’s the point of sending children to fancy schools that will teach them to think independently when back at home all you want is to hear a quiet ‘yes Mummy’ and ‘ok Daddy’, without pausing to consider a different opinion from your child about things that affect them?

That said, this book has come under flak for an arguably cliched and stereotypical portrayal of various key characters, especially parents and classmates, with respect to gender identity and choices. To me though, the cliches work because the vast majority of parents and others who make up much of the world for a child like Jason, are of the type portrayed in the book.

John Boyne has never claimed that he’s written a holistic and all encompassing perspective on the subject matter, and ‘My Brother’s name is Jessica’ focuses on negative reactions a lot more than on positive ones, and to me that’s authenticity and sheer honesty in writing an account of what our present world is like, when it comes to accepting that a child born biologically a boy can choose to identify as a girl and there’s nothing wrong with the child or their decision. Also, he has a trademark style in writing, of rendering complex issues into a simplistic viewpoint, because he writes from the point of view of young children/(barely there) young adults, and his books end on a short and abrupt mode.

To anyone (including me) who seeks a well rounded closure, the end will seem rushed, disappointing, cliched, and a tad farfetched, but then sometimes real life is like that with seemingly sudden changes and dramatic u-turns in thought and opinions. A must read indeed!

Book Review : ‘Slam’, by Nick Hornby

The first thing that slams into you is the language – typical teenager speak, and it’s a bit much to wrap your head around. The book itself doesn’t hook you in right from the start, but hold on and once you start to adapt to the language, and the big ‘slam’ happens, well this is one hilarious ride.

Except there’s nothing funny about the subject matter, but Nick Hornby manages to keep a balance between the humor and the seriousness. The best part is that the book actually is from a teenager’s perspective, and it works well, which goes on to show how much Hornby does understand what teens are like, when it comes to sex, pregnancy, money, jobs and parenting. Sam, the lead character is adorably dorky and an idiot of sorts from an adult’s perspective, considering his take on things, but really he’s just the average teenager trying to figure out stuff as he goes along.

As a character, Sam is authentic and he elicits in an adult reader, the emotions that are par for the course when dealing with a teenager. I’m sure that young adults will identify with him too – and that’s a terrifying thought in a way. Why it’s terrifying is something you have to read to figure out, otherwise I’ll end up giving the plot away.

As a book, this is insightful in the sense that it gives an understanding of how a typical teenager thinks, and also offer tiny peeks into the little things that still make up society, especially British society, including racism, elitism, and attitudes towards parenting. Some parts are downright hilarious and had me laughing out loudly in public. This is an easy read and I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a book that might not leave a lasting impression but will get you thinking about a few things, including whether or not to have kids.

Book Review : The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch, by Sanam Maher

‘Women have the right to be themselves even if they offend conventional sensibilities’

The sensational life and death of Qandeel Baloch, delivers a lot more than what the title promises. Qandeel’s life was sensational indeed but it was also tragically short, and yet the book at 224 pages of fairly smallish font, is a well sized read. That’s because Sanam Maher doesn’t just take a deep look at QB’s life, but also at her ‘times’, the social cultural religious complexities that form up the context within which the average Pakistani woman lives, survives, and dies, and sometimes is killed for the sake of ‘honor’.

The book is structured in a way that even as we take as close a look at Qandeel as is realistically possible posthumously, we get an even deeper perspective into what shaped someone with her background and aspirations, by taking a look at other women of her life and times. Every chapter is specific and to the point and even as there’s an examination of some facet of Qandeel’s life or persona, there’s also a deeper look at the underlying context surrounding the same. Bravo! Sanam Maher’s depth of research is astounding and this book at times can be a terrifying read for women readers who till now may have had a simplistic view point about what life can be like for the average Pakistani woman – a tightrope walked at all times, in a country where wearing a hijab puts you at a disadvantage for getting certain jobs, but not wearing one puts you into conflict with a powerful section of society.

Ever so often while reading this book, I would come across something that would cause me to put it down, and breathe deeply, just breathe and try to process what I’d just read. The struggles for women’s right in Pakistan is truly a struggle, and even as Maher profiles Qandeel Baloch, she deftly takes one through the  complicated and chaotic rules, regulations, and even laws that impact women’s lives, often by failing to deliver what they are meant to promise in the first place – safety, security, and a chance to live with respect and dignity, as an equal citizen. In doing so, she manages to turn Qandeel from just another aspirational social media wannabe into a woman to be admired for being as she was in a space so dangerous for ‘bold’ women, ‘independent’ women.

Sure, Qandeel expressed herself in a way that sits at odds with many (including me, I found her antics on videos, especially the one with the bikini and robe to be distasteful), but that doesn’t mean that she lacked depth as a person, and was somehow deserving of shame. She definitely didn’t deserve to be killed for choosing to be a woman who was open about her desires, sought social media fame and was okay with flaunting her body to grab attention. She was a woman who wanted to wear what she was comfortable with, show as much as she was comfortable with, and she comfortable with being looked at by thousands of strangers online – none of which adds up to inviting curses , slut shaming, and being murdered. She was herself, and to paraphrase a common hindi phrase, ‘usne koi chori nahi ki naahi koi daaka daala’ (she didn’t steal from someone or loot something), and yet she paid the ultimate price. In a world where rapists and murderers get jail time but not the death penalty, Qandeel Baloch was killed because she dared to be herself.

Was Qandeel a feminist, as she proclaimed herself to be? Yes, to me she was, because any woman who dares to demand the freedom of choice is a feminist. Qandeel in her lime green bikini and barely there robe is as much a feminist as a woman who chooses to wear a hijab (or a bindi/turban/head scarf) because she wants to. Too many men have already and continue to weigh in on what women should or should not wear in the name of religion, but nobody bothers to ask women what they want – it’s like religion itself is an exclusively male domain and only the clerics can decide on what is ‘paak’ and what is ‘haraam’. Women still don’t get to choose what they want, and those who do, are looked at either as simple minded backward idiots (if a hijab is what they prefer over uncovered heads) or as shameless character deficient sluts (if bikinis, short skirts, and cleavage revealing clothes are their choice). Any woman who chooses to choose of her own free will is a feminist.

Sanam Maher’s writing style is riveting and it keeps you glued page after page as she weaves together stories and narratives about QB and other women, to create a book that ultimately offers a somewhat deep look at the lives of Pakistani women, living in a country and simply cannot decide what it wants to do with it’s women, and is increasingly torn between living in two completely different worlds. To a Pakistani woman, freedom often comes at a steep cost, and too many have paid it already.

Book Review : ‘Scythe’, by Neal Shusterman

Dystopian fiction usually talks of a world where there is great injustice or suffering. But ‘Scythe’ is based in a perfect world, with one teeny tiny flaw – a world that is so perfect that humanity has eradicated death itself and no one has to die. Yet, the planet Earth can only support so much by way of sheer numbers and so, some people need to die, in order to ensure continuity of life for the collective population.

Enter ‘Scythes’, professional reapers who are ordained to take lives (gleaning is how the act of killing is referred to in this world). They are revered and they are feared and they are a community separate from others, ruled by their own laws. Each Scythe is supposed to follow ten commandments and take a certain number of lives every year, with compassion and respect and the element of surprise. Death redefined in a world without death, approximating human mortality from the Age before the ‘Thunderhead’ (a cloud style AI that rules the world).

This level of autonomy and power, of course engenders corruption and the story is about two somewhat reluctant apprentices who have to compete with each other, while navigating the world and workings of Scythedom, while dealing with the various implications of become someone who is ‘licensed to kill’.

Scythe offers up, apart from an exciting story, a lot of food for thought, philosophically and yet with a real life perspective about life and death but also about perfection and the cost of achieving the same. This is a deeply nuanced read with a rich subtext of not just right vs wrong but also about essential facets of what makes life worth living. I found the book to be an engaging read for adults as well as anyone from middle grade upwards and very relevant as well.

Scythe has a refreshingly different approach to dystopia, set as it is within utopia in a way, and it is a riveting read, without a lot of blood and gore, despite the amount of killing that goes on in the book. Absolutely worth reading.

Book Review : I never gave up, by Sailesh

Sailesh’s memoir is much like him – tip of the iceberg, with immense hidden depth. When I received my copy, I was surprised by the slimness of the volume, considering what I know of him and his often profoundly enriching life experiences.

This is where the format of ‘I never gave up’ comes into play, told as it is through the eyes of Sailesh’s young son Aadesh, as a story of a boy finding out more about his father through recollections and vignettes shared by others and by Sailesh himself. Unlike other memoirs that come with plenty of philosophical expositions, this book is a largely straighforward account of some of the most important events in Sailesh’s life, giving us a glimpse into who he is as a person, and how he’s been shaped into being that way.

Those of us who know him, know about his hardworking nature, his constant zest for learning, his stubbornness and independent streak, and also of his adaptibility to change and resilient nature. Strangers though, who may never meet him in person, will get to understand him closely, simply by the engaging manner in which his story is told, without underlining or highlighting anything. Humble as always, in his memoir Sailesh simply offers us precious memories for scrutiny and leaves it to the reader to draw their own conculsions.

To say that Sailesh has lived an interesting life up until now would be an understatement. I would say that he has lived a rich life, a meaningful life, that he has created through never giving up in the face of all kinds of obstacles. His journey has seen him through all kinds of struggles and pain, including death and loss, financial hardships, and the letting go of some of his initial dreams – yet through it all, he has kept his focus on moving on, never giving up on his dream of a better life and a better future for himself, his family, and also the larger community around him.

His memoir is inspiring not just because of the recounted incidents but also because of the deeper messages it contains about education and real learning, giving back to society, making dreams come true through hardwork and patience, and living life simply and meaningfully.

This book is also one that I read through in a single sitting – once I started I found that I couldn’t bear to put it down without the urge to read more. Recommended for anyone who wants a break from celebrity memoirs and would like to dive deep into the world of a man of humble beginnings who made the transition from simple beginnings into a comfortable and successful life that continues to be profoundly enriching and well lived in many ways, without the need for ostentation and show-off.

Book Review : ‘The Midnight Library’, by Matt Haig

” I don’t think your problem was stage fright. Or wedding fright. I think your problem was life fright. “

Oh I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It’s simple and uncomplicated, unless of course you see it from the author’s point of view (all those lives, and hammering home the message all the way during the read all the way to the end), and the fact that it holds a deep message.

Nora Seed, is 35 and to put it mildly, unsuccessful. Going nowhere. If we’re not being politically correct, the word we’d use is ‘Loser’, and yes with a capital L because as a child all the way into her teens, Nora was both gifted and promising, with a number of choices she could make and succeed in, including becoming an Olympic swimmer. See, Nora Seed, had all the seeds of becoming a big blooming tree, if not a healthy happy verdant shrub, except when we meet her, she turns out to be more of a sickly drooping potted plant, and fading fast.

That’s where the story starts off in right earnest , because Nora decides to off herself and lands up at a place called ‘The Midnight Library’. That in itself is such a fascinating idea that I actually stood up and gave Matt Haig a standing ovation for sheer imagination ; I mean I’m a bibliophile who could identify with the character in more than a few ways, and she lands up in ‘limbo’ that’s a library!!! What’s not to like? Except this library has thousands of books that are each a ‘life’.

Nora’s life, or rather lives to be precise, they are formed out of every choice she made and every action she didn’t take, and as someone hanging between life and death in her ‘original ‘ life, she gets to pick an alternate, waking up in a different life based on a different choice and she gets to decide if she wants to continue in this alternate life, or try another one via the library.

So, we go off on a ride through different versions of Nora’s life, along with a good dose of Philosophy, and a bit of Quantum Physics thrown in for good measure. It’s a fun ride, it’s a thought provoking ride, and ultimately it’s an experience that makes you look at your own life and how you see it, how you value it, and how you choose to live it.

This is a simply written book, with uncomplicated language where the beauty lies more in the plot than in the prose. That doesn’t mean it lacks beauty or profundity, just that it doesn’t use flowery language or long sentences to say something as simple as “You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it. “, and ” You are lost within your lostness. Which is to say, very lost indeed. ” .

An easy yet profound read, this is a book that anyone who loves fiction with a philosophical bent of mind will enjoy. Also, for anyone wondering whether life is worth living anymore.

Oh, and I hope you’ll choose to be a volcano and not a black hole.

Book Review : ‘The Familiars’, by Stacey Hall

I’ll admit I was drawn to this because of the pretty cover, but ‘The Familiars’ is more than just its outward appearance would suggest. This is a mostly well written book to start with, and it has a somewhat strong story, an interesting lead character, and plenty food for thought.

‘The Familiars’ is primarily a fictional account of the Pendle witch trials of 1612, a time when England was ruled by King James I. The Jacobean era in England, was marked by amongst other things, a deep distrust of Catholics due to their role in the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ but also by rising hatred against women who were seen as either too wise or as too independent. Considering that James I wrote a book on the subject of witches, it was all too easy at that time to point a finger at any woman, especially one who was old, poor, and single, and scream ‘witch’, and be taken rather seriously.

It is against this setting, that Stacey Hall introduces us to Fleetwood Shuttlewood, a young noblewoman, married to a rich Lancastrian landowner, who is pregnant for the fourth time, after having endured three miscarriages. Fleetwood comes from a background of having grown up under the thumb of an overbearing mother, who she resents deeply. She’s married to Richard Shuttlewood at the age of 13, and almost five years later, has yet to bear him any children, let alone the coveted heir.

As a character, Stacey Hall does a deft job of etching out Fleetwood as ‘half formed’ – she’s equal parts dependant and yet capable of taking independent decisions, she’s a grown up yet still a child, and she’s shaped simply by circumstances and the lack thereof. Deprived of company in her formative years, she isn’t someone at ease with making social conversation especially in groups, and yet she can hold her own when in the company of familiars, including those older than herself. These interesting contrasts in Fleetwood as a character, become a way for the reader to take a deeper look into how the lives of noblewomen were shaped either by men, or by matriarchs. As a reader you start to see just how much a woman’s life depended on the men in it, and the extent to which women, especially those from a background of privilege, were considered (and encouraged to be) nothing more than child bearers and wives. Also, women of all backgrounds had to walk a continuous tightrope of sorts to stay on the good side of all the men in their lives, not just husbands but also ‘ family friends ‘ and son in laws because society and laws were both heavily patriarchal.

The book itself though, as feels like a contrast of sorts – there’s good writing and a strong story, but ultimately everything sort of fizzles out. There are so many interesting threads that Stacey Hall weaves, that could have been well explored but it’s almost as if she decided as the author to pick the conventional straight and narrow route to the conventional end. Or maybe that’s the point she tries to make, that despite all the spookiness and allusions and hints at sorcery and gothic gloom, things ultimately are as simple as women living somehow in a man’s world. There are more devils are in men’s heads and hearts than in women’s cloaks and cauldrons.

A good one time read. Also a book that perhaps Stacey Hall might like to rewrite at some point in time with an alternate version.

Book Review : ‘Yajnaseni’, by Pratibha Ray

Book Review : Yajnaseni, by Pratibha Ray

(Long post alert)

“For preserving unity among the five Pandavas I would have to become the wife of them all. The five Pandavas would establish dharma on earth. If they were not one it would be dharma that would be vanquished. Therefore, my role was clear.”

Yajnaseni – born of the sacrificial altar, right after her brother Dhrishtadyumna is born out of the sacrificial fire. His purpose in life is to avenge his father King Dhrupad’s humiliation at the hands of his one time best friend Dronacharya, Guru to the princes of Hastinapur. Her birth is for the purpose of upholding dharma. As daughter to Dhrupad, she is also called Draupadi.

Yet, throughout history, she is better known as ‘Panchali’, a name that over centuries has become an epithet of sorts, used for women seen as promiscuous and fallen. She is Panchali not only because she is the Princess of Panchaal, but also because she is the only woman of Aryavarta, who is married to all five (paanch is the hindi word for 5) Pandava brothers. A common wife to them all. A woman, born of the holy altar, to uphold righteousness, married to five brothers at the same time, and held responsible for starting the greatest war of ancient times. A woman both revered as a goddess for her patience, wisdom, forbearance, and fortitude, and reviled as the catalyst for the deaths of thousands on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Dark-skinned and hence often addressed as ‘Krishnaa’ (the word means ‘ the dark skinned one’ in hindi), known for her piety and ardent devotion to Lord Krishna. The royal senior most daughter in law of Hastinapur in her generation, known also for her arrogance and impetuousness, for insulting Karna during her swayamvara by asking his lineage, and most importantly, for ridiculing Duryodhana at Indraprastha, calling him the blind son of a blind man. Perhaps best known for vowing revenge over the Kauravas, in rather gory terms.

While Sita from Ramayana is worshipped in temples and homes, Mahabharat’s Draupadi has always been a controversial figure. To this day, Indian parents by the thousands name their young daughters ‘Sita’, in the hope of blessing them with grace, piety, and the upright morality and courage associated with the wife of Lord Ram, but there’s never been another Draupadi since the first one perished at the foothills of the Himalayas, the first to fall and be left behind as the Pandavas journeyed towards Mount Kailash in the hopes of reaching heaven. After all what parent would wish for their child a life such as hers?

Confined to the pages of history and yet admired quietly for her courage, Draupadi remains a complex and enigmatic woman, and as such is the focal point of Pratibha Ray’s ‘Yajnaseni’. Did Draupadi actually have a choice in much of what has been attributed to her, or was she only doing that which her conscience called out to be dharma? Faced with the breaking of a mother’s word, Draupadi chose to sacrifice her body to 5 men, so that history would not look upon the Pandavas as disobedient sons, and so their personal amity too would be preserved. Was that too a choice truly hers or one that was foisted on her? When have women truly been free in a world where the rules of virtue and vice are different for men and women? Through the lens of Yajnaseni, Ray writes a deeply feminist book, examining not just the world of its titular heroine, but the lives of women in general ; lives that even today remain much the same in most ways that matter.

Written originally in Oriya, the english version of ‘Yajnaseni’ does suffer from the usual plight of translated prose that is often ‘literally translated’ (Keep in mind that the translation itself is almost 17 years old, dated 1995 and hence true to form to the translation norms of the 90’s ). Despite these challenges though, this book kept me riveted because of the depth of thought and richness of imagination of the author. The infamous ‘cheerharan’ scene is written and translated beautifully, and made me weep, portraying as it did, the very end of honor in Aryavarta, and heralding the coming of Kalyuga, even before the great war of Kurukshetra. The day Draupadi was dishonored in a hall filled with revered sages, wise elders, and brave men, has always seemed to me to be the real pivotal moment when the time of dharma came to an end, paving the way for the time of destruction.

Critics of the book have derided Pratibha Ray for ‘ corrupting ‘ the traditional narrative of Mahabharata as a book imparting moral lessons  elevating most of its men and some of its women to deific stature ; indeed Draupadi is worshipped in some parts of India even today, and is also considered one of the 5 ‘satis’ (chaste women) . Mahabharata’s Draupadi is seen as pious because of her devotion to her husbands and dharma, and therefore deserving of a goddess-like status. Under Pratibha Ray’s pen though, Yajnaseni emerges as a woman who constantly walks the tightrope of mortal yearnings vs doing the right thing. Tasked with keeping everyone happy, as a wife to five, a royal daughter in law and daughter, a queen renowned for her beauty and learning, even as an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, history has always chosen to forget Draupadi the woman, the one who loved blue roses, who yearned to love and be loved in return, and to live a simple and happy life, a content life.

Yet, as history itself knows, Yajnaseni is a woman tasked with the near constant sacrifice of all she’s ever wanted or held dear, and uncomplainingly so. In this book though, she complains, she pines, she rants and rages and she gives way to her most secret thoughts (the sore point for most critics of this book), even as she goes on doing the right thing ( or atleast trying to, including self honesty) , keeping a stoic face and a steely resolve. Through this human approach to writing Yajnaseni, Pratibha Ray hammers home one simple fact that the world at large ignores even today – women are not looking to be deified, they are simply looking to be looked at as human beings, and that to make a woman happy you don’t have to put her on a pedestal and worship her, just get to know her well and respect her for who she is,  without seeking to dictate aspects of her being.

A woman is a goddess not just when she gives up or gives in to how men want to see her, she is a goddess every time she fights for the right to be acknowledged for being her own unique self. Pratibha Ray’s Draupadi deserves to be seen as a goddess simply for the way she is as a woman – outspoken, forthright, giving, patient, sacrificing, and constantly striving to uphold the honor of not just her husbands, family, and herself, but also of women and in fact all of humanity.

The futility of revenge too, is portrayed beautifully, when at the end of the war, the victors are left with a hollow victory – their sons and elders gone from the world, all they have left is a kingdom of widows and wailing mothers, reproaching them for the various ways in which their actions (and inaction too, or rather inability) became a catalyst for war.
Filled with immense thought provoking messages, not just about dharma and what it means to be righteous but even about the power of forgiveness, contentment, the nature of delusion and the sin of arrogance and pride, ‘Yajnaseni’ is a tremendous read, especially for those familiar with the Mahabharata and fascinated by its characters. This book made me wish I knew enough Oriya to be able to read it in its original language.

“Full of anguish and anger I was thinking: was woman merely man’s movable or immovable property? Being a woman did I not have the right even over myself, my own soul? If they had rights over this body of mine, did it mean they could do as they wished with me?”

“Death is more generous than life. Death is more composed. Those who were enemies yesterday, today their death drenches the heart with tender compassion. Those who were wicked, lustful, sinful till yesterday were made composed, steady and unperturbed by death today.”

Book Review : ‘Star Crossed’, by Minnie Darke

Love with a theme of astrology, a dash of Aussie style direct and descriptive writing, and we have a match made in heaven. Or the stars, to be precise.

Minnie Darke doesn’t waste time getting into the thick of things, and her writing style reflects that – she writes like a fast paced babbbling brook, but one that is so adorable that you keep wanting to look at the rush and admire the beauty of its waters and its flow. Her style is very distinctive, it’s a refreshing relief, and it doesn’t feel rushed or overly verbose. Here is a writer who knows how to use her adjectives and adverbs adroitly, and her sentences, though long and a tad wordy, are engaging enough to hook you into reading well beyond bedtime.

Darke puts her writing to superpower to great use by interspersing the main story (Justine – Nick), with little snippets featuring all kinds of random regular people, who read horoscope columns, and the choices they make based on what the stars are saying, and these are so much fun! There are people, real people who take real life decisions based on horoscopes, but reading about these in fiction, written as they are in Darke’s style, is hilarious  poignant, and even thought provoking. Not to mention the ‘star crossed ‘ factor, that really comes out beautifully by the time this tale nears its end.

It is a sweet tale indeed, and one that makes you smile and chuckle and go ‘aww’ almost from the start. Love makes us do crazy things, and Minnie Darke writes about it in the best way possible! A fast paced and fun read , and I really wish this gets adapted for the telly soon.