Ashwathy and the Boot of God

Author- Sowmya Rajendran

Rating- 4 stars

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Ashwathy and the Boot of God is a fast-paced, gripping mystery book that I finished in one sitting.

With a curious beginning, which involves an abandoned boot like, the story could have gone anywhere. The fact that despite thinking it might belong on a dead body,14 year old Ashwathy pokes around, and is piqued enough to investigate it when it lands up in their cowshed, supposedly carried in from a place where the cow would not have been able to enter when she came back from grazing, is enough to tell us that our protagonist is no ordinary girl. She’s smart, curious, intelligent enough to figure things out, and as we find out, resourceful enough to get to the bottom of things.

These things include the fact that the boot belongs to God. But this God doesn’t reside in the temple, and require puja and flowers. This God is but a sparkly-eyed, fashionably attired God who often changes her hairstyle and decides to go on dates with interesting people. Yes, you read that right. God here, is not the default male, but a woman. And a feisty woman, mind you.

We learn from God, that there is a backstory that Ashwathy needs to help with. Sreeja, a married woman in the neighbourhood, was said to have committed suicide, having recently been diagnosed with cancer. Sreeja, however, had complained to God that she had been murdered, and asked for her help. God wants Ashwathy’s help in solving the case. So how does Ashwathy rise to the occasion? What does she do to find out what really happened? It is a quick, breathtaking read to find out.

This book gives us a work of fiction rooted in small town Kerala, a town within daily commuting distance of a major city, with very believable, very Indian characters. Described briefly, each character is real, believable, and unique. And that is no mean feat. Then there is the demolition of stereotypes done in the author’s trademark humour (I loved the way she put things). God is a She, who resents the idea of a prayer-and-coconut-breaking-routine. Ashwathy is an atheist, even if she is recruited by God, and she is encouraged in her beliefs by her father who dreams big for his daughter despite social pressure to go the other way. One can only imagine the possibilities. And then there is that little thing about Ashwathy confronting a sexually abusive teacher at school. Very impressive.

The humour in this book cuts the serious scenes with ease, and the quirky details about God lighten up the pages. It is definitely apt for the target age group. Sowmya also touches upon various aspects of social life like dowry, not letting a girl study, marriage being forced on someone, a lecherous teacher and how even mothers are sometimes reluctant to let their  girls do things. Ashwathy managed to win my heart with her head strong-ness, practical approach and logical reasoning. God, in her feminine form, is shown to have a wonderful sense of humour and manages to pass on such lovely nuggets of wisdom. This book breaks stereotypes, but at its heart, is a gripping mystery which keeps you hooked until the last page.

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Vortex of Emotion- एहसास का बवंडर

(I tried something new. English and Hindi/Urdu)

The waves in the sea moved towards the sky

समुन्द्र की लहरे आसमान की तरफ चलने लगी

They took with them, every word and every dream
हर लफ्ज़, हर ख्वाब को अपने साथ लेके चली

A swirling vortex of water and emotion, of stable sensitivity
पानी और एहसास का बवंडर, सबात हस्सास

A storm of my words, from my being to you.
मेरे शब्दों का तूफ़ान, रूह से तुम्हारे पास

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“Fervor” by Noor Dhingra

I recently got published by this brilliant online journal! Check it out x

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Fervor

You don’t see yourself in your best moments
When you’re passionate and fervent
And talking about what you love.
You don’t see yourself
When your chest rises and
To your heartbeat
Curled up and rhythmic.
You don’t see yourself reading a book
Eyes enflamed with zeal.
There’s no mirror in your way
When you’re laughing and smiling
With happiness bursting from your seams
And laughter leaking from your being.
And you don’t see yourself looking at someone
With all the care in your heart.

But don’t worry
You will find people who will take your joy
And reflect it back to you.
They will refract your own light back
Until you glow in your unabashed beauty.

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Things You Don’t Say

You don’t say a lot of things. You don’t say how you’re always competing with everyone. How you’re competing with yourself, day and night. And day and night.

You don’t say a lot of things. You don’t say how you feel about the universe. How you think its forever revolving around you. Around us.

You don’t say a lot of things. You don’t say how you feel like you don’t know something, something that everybody else does. But you know the truth? No one really knows it. No one.

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Brilliant

(From the House of Moments series- https://goo.gl/3SFeh1 )

Do something amazing today.

Finish something

Unfinished,

Read a book you’ve always wanted to,

Get off your chair and paint your wall

Coral and purple and all the colours

Of your first painting in 2nd grade,

When you came home and left fingerprints all over the wall.

I’m asking you to make a mark.

Its going to be messy and

Crazy and you’re going to make mistakes.

But don’t worry about that

That’s the point.

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Wonder

Author– R J Palacio

Rating- 3 Stars

Wonder is a good book. It has a minimalist cover, which gives just the right theme to the book. The blurb is somewhat mysterious, which adds to the story as a whole. If you read it, you’re probably going to love it: it’s a very sweet, heartwarming story. Its original and relevant. The protagonist,  ten-year old August is the kind of character that you wish you could hug. Born with severe facial deformities and home-schooled all his life, Auggie must now go to a real school and interact with other kids. It’s a sensitive issue, but R. J. Palacio handles it brilliantly. And on top of that – it’s well-written and flows nicely enough. But there were parts that didn’t go well, and I did have problems with it. However, please do keep in mind that my opinions are not very common, and the majority of people will probably disagree with my dissent.

I want to start off by saying that this book got under my skin a lot more than I ever expected it to. I thought that my major complaint (if any) would be that it was too light, too sweet. But this book has a lot of depth. It contains six (or more – I kind of lost track) points of view. The narrative is handed off relay-style from one pair of eyes to another, starting with August and moving forward to his sister Via and then to his friends. I think this was partly successful; although, (and this is just my opinion) I think that if you need to distinguish multiple POV’s using differences in spelling/capitalisation/fonts then you probably shouldn’t be writing multiple POV’s. However, Via’s chapter really hit home for me. It was written extremely well, and it really gave a fresh, new perspective.

However, I think that the main reason that I just could not connect with this book is that I fundamentally disagree with its central lesson, which boils down to: “be kind”. Through this book, I got a small inkling of what it must be like to deal with that for your entire life: a constant wave of kind smiles and soft voices and helpfulness; a constant blindness to everything about you. It says: you are not someone to be taken seriously, to be respected. You are someone to be pitied.

A recurring theme in the book is the precepts, which August’s English teacher, Mr. Browne, presents his students with at the beginning of every month. These precepts are often addressed in the story, and one of them, probably the one used to underline the overall message of the book, rubbed me the wrong way. It is the following quote by an American psychotherapist and author:

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Now, don’t get me wrong: being kind certainly isn’t a bad decision. But should I really value being kind over being right? Should I tell lies not to offend a person’s feelings for example? Should I omit my own feelings in order to not hurt anyone else? Tell me, where would this concept lead us? Towards a better world? I somehow doubt it.

In the end, when I recapitulate the whole book, there are simply too many “toos” that come to my mind: the different voices were too similar (which is probably how all 10-year olds speak, but the author should maybe have stuck to 2 POVs), Auggie’s parents too good and too understanding, the “villains” too evil, the ending too perfect, the overall tone a little too preachy. It was mostly life-lessons, disguised as a plot. Then again, keeping in mind the target age-group, this is probably half-forgiven.

However, it has its charm, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a story about life, hope, kindness, and prejudice. It makes its point pretty well, and the message definitely resonates within.  8727394

The Ocean At The End of the Lane

Author– Neil Gaiman

Rating- 4.5 Stars

Lurking at the blurred corners of reality, this book transported me to a world of sea-soaked memories and half-real nightmares. It ties together nostalgia and fear in a drowsy, overwhelming narrative. A poignant story buried in the deep realms of childhood, it follows the narrator as he visits his old home and uncovers the memories that came with it. It revolves around the inevitable scars that we carry with us all through our lives, and the dark undertones that define us. Personally, the reason this book meant so much to me was because it felt familiar. Gaiman’s writing style has a way of enchanting the reader into a world that is only partially defined; he leaves the rest to our imagination. Glistening with child-like wonder,paired with harsh strokes of reality, this book gives you closure- but always, always leaves you wanting more.

Ocean

Review Policy

I would love to review ARCs and take any review requests you might have. However, please understand that because I am still in high school, I am an extremely busy person, so it might be a little while until I can get around to reading them.

I like books from nearly all genres, so anything that you would be interested in having me review is fine with me!

Please contact me by emailing me at noordhingra@hotmail.com if you have any questions or would like me to review a book.

Italic

I don’t want you to

Press caps-lock and give me height

And covert my lower-case straight face

To an upper case smirk.

I want to complete myself

And give in my murmurs for yawps.

So that together,

The two of us can slowly turn the dark rooms

Light and

Stride together,

Lower case

To upper case,

To italic.

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