Sunday, September 10, 2017

Book Review: 31 Miles by Vinita Bakshi

Name of the Book:  31 Miles 
Author: Vinita Bakshi 
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

After a long time, I'm putting down my thoughts regarding my latest read. Recently, most of the books I read, I have had no inclination to review. No author is a bad writer but not all books can evoke that emotion in you - the one that makes you want to cry, smile or even throw the book in anger.

I dwelled on this book for a long time for writing a review for this one was tough. I am still not sure how I feel about the ending. The ending startled me so much that the beginning of the saga became inconsequent.  Have you seen those movies where the secondary character would take more screen space and leave a mark that is remembered more than those done by the main hero? Akshay Khanna in Dil Chahta Hai is a perfect example of this. In this story, the ending mystified me as to what exactly happened and the whole story suddenly shifted to another dimension.

The prologue should have warned me about the ending, but it failed to do so. Somewhere I got lost in the lives of Mansa, Abhijit and Rajan and lost track of the prologue as I moved ahead along with the protagonists.

Mansa, from a well-to-do family, is a housewife with loads of unfulfilled dreams. Unlike many of her counterparts, she gets a chance to fulfill her dreams when she joins a cooking class. Somewhere along these lines, I drew the picture of Sridevi in English Vinglish. But while Sridevi was more insecure in the beginning, Mansa has a very strong personality of her own. She meets many new people and new thoughts are born in her mind.  And just when you feel that someone is waiting for her amidst that group of students, she finds love outside her marriage. She meets Rajan online.

Rajan is no stranger to her though he remains an absolute stranger to the readers throughout the story. From what I knew of him through his chats was that he was rude, selfish and mysterious. There was also a moment when I questioned the title of the book – 31 Miles. 31 miles that could have changed Mansa’s life drastically. So this title couldn't have been more appropriate. I waited along with her to see if those miles will be crossed. Would she dare to cross?

Being a woman, a married one at that, I don’t blame Mansa at all. It takes a lot of guts to face that inner, unsatisfied part, of one’s life. As a reader, I can’t judge right or wrong but it excited me to see the course of action Mansa would take. What is that point in a marriage that challenges a woman to take a bold step? Her husband Abhijit is a nice guy. An ordinary guy who like so many husbands takes his wife for granted.  She has a beautiful daughter with whom she has a wonderful relationship. So what is it that makes Mansa take that step? Boredom? Adventure? Or just fate?

The writing style of Ms. Bakshi is engaging. Somewhere along the lines, Mansa’s voice becomes the voice of many middle-aged women, trudging through their lives without knowing what they want and living for the pleasure of their family. Mansa was the rebel to the age old custom.

Coming back to the ending of the book, my only concern is that Rajan is a part of the Kaal Chakra. Why is he not a tangible character? Why does he not get a physical form for the readers? What would have happened in those 31 miles for him to become such an intrinsic part of Mansa’s life?

What makes it more shocking was that hint of paranormal at the end. A genre shifting within a series?


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