My review of the book – When She Smiled by Ritoban Chakraborti

My review of the book – When She Smiled by Ritoban Chakraborti
Before I start my review, let me
put the last things first for a change. Ritoban Chakraborti, making his first
foray into the field of literature, has really given an absolutely fresh and
honest view with his debut novel.

The story revolves around a
teenager grown and brought up in the extremely picturesque and poetic town of
Shimla. The scenic beauty of the locale where the story is spun adds more
melodramatic value to this teenage love story.
I would be too judgmental in
calling it a love story since it describes the turbulent mind of a 15 year
adolescent who falls in love, his first crush and learns and realizes it the
real hard way, the mystery about the girls of his age, their aspirations and
their thinking.
While narrating the various
confused state of mind, the protagonist in the story goes through, it makes us
as the reader relate to the situation of all the troubles that one faces in his
life and how in such situations, what one expects is just a few gestures of
love from someone he really adores, admires and loves. It makes us feel that
such gestures, though may be built on false promises and aspirations, but can
really change the way we start looking at things and make us come out of those
troubles for the moment.
As the story takes a turn from
adulation to heartbreak, it again brings us to the same cross roads and forces
us to think that whatever these small gestures of love had made can so easily
be undone and change us in our thinking. However, whether it is the gesture of
love or a rejection resulting in heartbreak, the author has sublimely
highlighted the fact that it does provide us a different perspective of looking
at things, at the world and at us ourselves as a person in introspection.
As I read through the book, I can
relate this story to all the young boys and girls during their teenage school
and college days who surely would have fallen in love, whether reciprocated
love, or calf low or one sided infatuation and crush. This story quite candidly
explains how a sincere and honest young boy falls for the smile and guile of a
new girl in class and how he ends up realizing that his world is actually much
beyond the smile of the girl which he assumes to be his world. The story honestly
makes me fall in love with the character of Roy, feel for his aspirations and
turbulence and at the end desire that he really was worth much more than he
The character of Roy very easily
mingles within the minds of the readers as we all during our teenage days were
weighed down by the pressure of performance by our parents, to just concentrate
on our studies with the assumption that it will only make us something worthy.
A little word of caution though
in my review that I would surely like to add is that since I could narrate the
entire story as seen from the angle and eyes of the main protagonist, Roy, it
somehow left me high and dry to really know what was going through the minds of
the charming little Akansha. There had been occasions when I had pitied her,
and there had been occasions where I had hated her. However, I felt that I
should have known her side of the story before being that judgmental about what
she did and how she behaved with Roy.
The added twist to the story by
knocking of the ever caring Ashima, the elder sister to Roy, I felt was an
unwanted element to this otherwise smooth sailing narrative. As a reader, I
felt that this particular incident was a bit unwarranted as it did not achieve
the result of changing anything to the mindset and nature of Roy, which perhaps
was the intention of the author, while adding this tragedy.
Though the story travels quite
smoothly and is a good read for people who would like to have a causal read.
The usual twists and turns, including, jumping from one narrative to a totally
contradictory and different one in between split in chapters, is certainly
wanting in this lucid presentation. Such twists and turns are what keeps the
reader engaged and I felt that this novel lost out on that count.
I compliment the author for
keeping a smooth flow of the events in an even pace throughout the story though
perhaps he somehow tried to slightly hurry up things in the last three chapters
which I felt was like shifting gears in the middle of a smooth ride. However,
the joyful ending perhaps makes up for this flaw.

All in all, I would give this book a rating of
3.5 : 5, a good, honest and sincere attempt by a first time author.

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