About the author:
An Indian author of British descent, Ruskin Bond has written over a hundred short stories, essays, novels and more than thirty books for children. For his book of short stories, “Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra”, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1992. For his contributions to children’s literature, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999.
Impressions off the back:
The story of a young boy seeking adventure, getting tired of the rules and restrictions put at home. Over the two novels, I think the boy will find friendship too. I’m eager to begin, for this story seems to be like one of any teenager. I can relate with the thought of breaking free and seeking adventure. I’ve been down that road before.
My thoughts on the book:
The name Ruskin Bond is quite famous in Indian literature. I’m sure there are lots of people who have read his work and loved it a lot. For me, this book was the first step into the world of this author. And I must say I’m quite delighted.
The book has two novels, the first one is The Room on the Roof, and the second, Vagrants in the Valley is the sequel to the first.
In the first book, we are introduced to Rusty, a sixteen year old boy from the Anglo-Indian community. Rusty is an introvert, not very talkative or wanting to make friends outside. He’s the center of attention in his community, but is a very lonely boy, lost in his own world of fantasies and dreams. On his way back home, he enjoys the light rain that falls around him.
He is hailed by another young boy, Somi. As the rain gets heavier, Somi asks Rusty to hop on to his bicycle. They are joined by two more, and from there begins a new friendship. Rusty, who previously shied away from making friends, suddenly finds himself happy in the company of Somi, and others like Ranbir and Suri. In the elation of friendship, Rusty even finds himself being unusually brave, and raising his voice against his guardian, Mr. Harrison, and running away from home.
The adventure then begins for the young boy, as for the first time, he is forced to fend for himself, find work and stay by himself. He finds another friend in Kishen, and falls in love. When his friends leave the town, he feels lonely and follows them, finding more adventure.
The second book is the sequel to the first, and shows the return journey of Rusty to Dehra. He finds his guardian is no longer at Dehra, and his old lodgings have been given away to someone else. Once again, he finds adventure. When his friends still have not returned, he finds new friends and seeks relatives he’s previously not known or met. Whereas the first novel is more about the feelings of the adolescent heart – the thirst for adventure, the first crush etc. – the second one is also about the characters finding maturity and understanding life’s little nuances too.
These were the first two novels written by Ruskin Bond. I thoroughly enjoyed both, and it was a refreshing read. Like I expected before, I could relate to the thirst for adventure in that age, especially given the restrictions that were imposed on his life style by his guardian. A read to bring a smile to your face, not that it is a humor novel, but the characters with their life will make you smile just thinking at times, “If only life was like that”.
Title: The Room on the Roof / Vagrants in the Valley
Author: Ruskin Bond
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publishers: Penguin India
Price: INR 275
(February 12th, 2013)