You’re not alone
By Nityasya Belapurkar
Rs 350, pp. 192
You’re not Alone is a story narrated by a bunch of 14 to 16-year-olds; their words giving shape to the novel as you flip its pages. The first thing to strike one is, no not its pink colour, but a smiling picture of the 16-year-old author on the cover. The novel is a story of group of girls (no guys) at a high school in Mumbai; their experiences and adventure as they enter adolescence. One is tempted to assume that the author’s story is hidden amongst the various narratives.
The book starts with Layara (one of the key characters) narrating her side of the story — typical thoughts of a young girl at that age. The story moves on as Samantha, Kritika and others speak their side.
The author shows a lot of imagination and talent in keeping the reader interested even though speaking through a different character in every new chapter. The ending might come across as lacking conviction at times — it is a smart move to end the book at a party thrown by Layara. This provides each character an opportunity to summarise the novel in their words. Doing away with a few pages in between and a few lesser words in the end would have benefited the book both in terms of making it interesting and less pricey. The book might be a good read or even an eye opener for parents who want to know about the life of their young girls, but again it is not for the faint-hearted or overtly protective parents. They can only hope that this is reel and not real life.
What works for the book are the delicately interwoven stories of its characters. There are pieces of advice for parents who can benefit by taking a page out and making the life of their little ones a little happier. Though the story seems to target super rich girls, there are pieces which are universally applicable. The book is paced well, neither fast nor very slow, one gets engrossed in the story as one progress beyond the first few pages.
What the novel sadly never speaks about is the school, boys and happy days in the lives of these young girls. And as you reach the end you are left wondering — Is the life of adolescent girls really filled with so much pain? At first glance I was tempted to put it down to the generation gap, but as I reached the end I was telling myself to believe that this is not the case, it really can’t be this bad.
Amrit Shetty is the author of Love over Coffee