Saturday, June 7, 2014

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Every now and then, there comes a book that doesn't fit into any of the categories of books I usually read. When the author of "India Was One" asked me for a honest review, I was up for it thinking that this might be one of those books.  I was right, this book isn't like any of the books I have read before. It is different and hence, the review is going to be a lot different. 

I am an Indian and also a Non Resident Indian, and that makes me look at the book from two perspectives. I tried coming up with one view about the book, but my mind was in a conflict. So, my review is going to be from two different perspectives.

The story is about Jai and Kaahi who fall in love with each other during their time in college. It is about the time they spend in college with their friends, their love, their marriage, their move to USA and their subsequent return to India when they get to know that India has got divided, again. The storyline is an usual college love story, set in the backdrop of modern India.

As an Indian who has spent most of her time in India, I felt the book was a bit of a drag because of the various details that was interspersed within the story, which an Indian already knows and is aware of. I also fail to understand the reason behind the use of vernacular words in the book that are written in the native language, considering the words are in English anyways. This makes the story lose the plot because we are hoarded with details in every paragraph. The smooth flow of a story is missing. I wish the details were either in the form of footnotes or should have been at the end of the book wherein people who wanted to know more about a particular thing could always look it up. But, this is only my take on it. I am sure the author would have thought of it differently while penning the book.

I contradict my own review here when I say that I believe the author made a brave attempt to write a book which is different and unique. As a Non Resident Indian, this book reminded me of what I was missing. The journey of Jai and Kaahi reminded me of our journey to the United States. The detailing is very accurate. Also, the emotions, the anxiety, the fear of Jai and Kaahi is something I could relate to. It was like a journey back in time when my husband and I came to the country about a year and half ago. I was emotionally very well tuned to this particular phase in the book. Again, there were details about how things work in USA and the like, which I skimmed through. 

If I have to put it briefly, I think I am going to get into the author's brain and think of it from his perspective. Here is a book wherein the characters and the story seems to be the background and the details about India, its culture, perspective of Indians seems to be the focus. I should say I liked the book though I feel the editing should have been crisp. The language is simple, the story is simple, but the essence of story where India gets divided into two seems to have lost its plot somewhere between all the details. I feel this book targets the international audience more than people residing in India, considering the minute detailing in the book. I feel this book is a good read for kids with Indian roots, who are born and brought up abroad, to get an insight of their roots. It is also a good read for people who want to get to know modern India and its culture, atleast to a certain extent. If I have to rate the book, I think I will give it a 3.25 out of 5 stars.

Rating : 3.25 out of 5


10 comments:

  1. It was such a thorough review ! I liked how you played so safely while mentioning about the storyline :P
    The story seems bit of a drag and I feel you have been a bit too generous with your star rating for this book... I mean it's all cultural differences in this book..one in which there is even baseball and cricket! I second you while you say it's great for NRIs who wish to reunite with their roots!

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    1. Yep..I think it is a brave attempt. :)

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  2. I first got to know about this book through Sridevi's post and then checked the Amazon reviews. A lot of the reviewers also complained about the story plot being broken by all these explanations! I guess you're right that the book may be more suited for people interested in knowing more about India!

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  3. Excellent review Pooja. I also started reading the book and the Hindi words, English meanings and Hindi script kept putting me off. Will work harder at it now :)

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  4. Nice review...maybe the book is intended for the foreign market than the Indian market...if so, then the detailing maybe justified.

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    1. Yes, I feel the target readers here are the NRIs.

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  5. Well, quite honest! And you actually said, how you felt. Looks like a little different from the usual love stories we read. I would love to read it after your review.

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    1. It is quite different, infact, very different from the books I usually read.

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