There are some books where the story takes a long time to get moving; then it gets interesting and then zooms toward the end. Even some of my favorite authors, who have been writing for years and are truly bestsellers, some of their books are like that. Another book that falls into this category is this one, When She Smiled, by Ritoban Chakrabarti.
The book tells the story of Mrityunjoy Roy, a teenager who has spent most of his life in Shimla, but is a Bengali. He’s like any other teenager in that he has his own dreams, and awaits the new school year eagerly, imagining what it’d be like, who he’d befriend and such. His family, especially his father, expects a lot from him. Then Akanksha enters into the mix and Joy Roy falls hard for her. Love begins to blossom, and we are taken into the world of the simple, caring, loving, poetic Mrityunjoy.
Like I said at the start, the story takes a long time to get warmed up. But after that, it has an essence that makes us enjoy the story. It takes us back in time, possibly, this love story where there’s no social networking sites or mobile phones and such. It takes us to the setting, Shimla and brings it to life. It takes us into the life of Mrityunjoy and his family and talks of love and family and friendships with the innocence of childhood and teenage days. I liked the rhyme game between Joy and Akanksha and the poems too, with rhyme, ideas and even confusion. The characters were interesting, though not very well sketched.
What brings down this story is that the writing doesn’t keep the writer engaged. I’ll be honest; I was tempted to stop reading after a while. Even though the middle parts of the story are interesting, poems and all, it peters out. And I didn’t like the ending. It just ended too hurriedly. It didn’t do the title justice, even with the way Joy justifies it at the end.
Overall, I wouldn’t say it wowed me. This will be more interesting for those who love reading coming-of-age fiction.
|Title: When She Smiled|
|Author(s): Ritoban Chakrabarti||Genre: Coming-of-Age Fiction|
|ISBN/ASIN: B00QFXTPL6||Publisher: Self-published|
|No. of Pages: 232||Price: Rs. 186|
(21st January 2015)