Savi Sharma is, without a doubt, the most popular writer in India right now. I have heard about her debut book ‘Everyone has a Story’ for a while (it is all over the place on social media), but when I checked out Goodreads—the most genuine book review site—some months ago, the unflattering reviews that I read caught me in a web of reluctance. And I have not had a great experience reading bestselling Indian commercial books in the past, so I kept myself from trying her first book out. However, recently, I saw that her second book had come out. A few days back, I thought of checking out the reviews of this book. I could not find even a single negative review. I was feeling bored that day, so somehow, I decided to give it a go.
I must admit that my expectations were quite low before flipping the first page. I don’t know if the author will read my review, but I feel like mentioning that I met her at the Bangalore Times Lit Fest prelude last month. I even asked her a couple of questions. One of them was—how do you tackle negative reviews and whether you soak in points of improvement from them? She replied in the affirmative but said that she doesn’t pay heed to reviewers who purposely try to down the book. I have not read her first book, but I feel that the negative reviews did form a preconceived notion in my mind—that she was just another Indian commercial fiction author (and there are many) using bland language and delivering a cliched story. In her first book, the author had, presumably, not focused on the parents of a particular character. I think those reviews have had an effect on her because, in this book, parents of almost all the characters have a major role to play.
The story begins with Shaurya unable to break himself from the chains of his hesitation and flee to Mumbai to achieve his dreams. The other characters are also introduced well. But the one thing that really pushed me down a ledge of astonishment was her language. As my eyes swept through each beautifully constructed sentence, the wall of my presumption broke brick by brick, and in no time, a flower of admiration sprung up from the ashes. Poetic sentences are littered throughout the narrative. I was amazed. I have read almost all popular commercial Indian authors, and apart from Preeti Shenoy to an extent, no-one has even come close to achieving this level. I read only literary fiction nowadays, and throughout the book, I never got the impression that I was not reading another literary fiction novel. The language is so good. The metaphors are brilliant and quite original, and the way she plays with words is magical.
The story is also built up quite well, especially the parts dedicated to Shaurya, his girlfriend, and Miraya. Using Miraya’s notebook as a narrative tool is also a well-played card. Doing that, the author could directly tell Miraya’s emotions instead of having to show them if she was given another POV, thus saving a lot of words. However, the character of Anubhav isn’t given enough justice. Even when the tragic incident happens in his life, I could feel no emotion as neither I knew the character properly nor was his relationship with his parents lent the detailing it should have. Even after the disaster, almost no memories are shown; why he couldn’t resist alcohol, smoking, nothing is shown, just told in a few sentences. It is difficult to feel sorry for the character. I feel that about 50 pages should have been added to flesh out the character a bit more.
The descriptions are written nicely, and they never felt excessive or insufficient.
I liked the fact that no expletives have been used throughout the book. Hinglish and Shayaris (found in many other Indian commercial fiction books) have also been thankfully avoided. Sex is conspicuous by its absence, thus making this read safe even for early teenagers. However, one thing I didn’t like was that some of the dialogues were too preachy and artificial. And Anubhav’s dialogues directed at his girlfriend towards the end of the book were just too cheesy. And the particular phrase ‘I will write my story again’ was overused. Generally, people don’t talk like that. However, apart from these minor issues, the book is good. The only reason why it couldn’t become memorable for me was that it never made me cry. I could feel for the characters throughout; the emotions were portrayed skillfully, but I just couldn’t find those heartbreaking moments that tear your heart apart.
The ending was predictable and a bit too sweet, everything falling into place. I know it’s an ideal culmination to an inspirational novel, but it still felt too good to be true. The intimate portion was again a bit unrealistic, especially considering that it takes place at a busy Indian railway station.
But this is just the second book of the author. She has a long way to go, and with the array of exceptional writing tools in her repertoire, I don’t think it’s long before she writes a classic, especially if she keeps improving with each book and doesn’t mind increasing the length of the book to flesh out the characters more. Wishing her all the best for her subsequent books.
4 stars from my side.