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“This is frightening, this world without words, this world of darkness and void. I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to make it stop…… To be trapped like this in one’s own body is a fate worse than death. With death, at least there is an end. Here, the suffering is endless.”
An author and an artist based in Bangalore, Preeti Shenoy’s second novel ‘Life is what you make it’ is one of the best books I have read so far by an Indian author. In its simplicity lies its best trait and the topics that it explores – college life, delusions and hope that love offers to one and bipolar disorder – may not seem that relevant by itself, but when taken together it creates a thread of thoughts that makes one wonder what actually the book talks about. It is not just a story about bipolar disorder, but as the author expresses ‘it is a story of courage, determination and growing up. It is a story of faith, belief and perseverance too and charting your own destiny.’
The story is told in first person – which enables us to relate to the protagonist, Ankita Sharma. It has a nice background to it, college life that most people would be able to identify themselves with. She is young and enthusiastic and it is through her talents that she manages to get herself into a premier management college for her Masters in Business Administrations (MBA). Half a year later, she is admitted into a mental health hospital. Why and how is what the novel tries to answer, along with a few other things.
Although some may not sympathize with what happens to Ankita at the end of the story, I feel that the author has done a pretty nice job. The reality about bipolar disorder was unknown to me before chancing upon this book, as was the concept. But, throughout the book, I could spot the different pieces and join them together finally to get a grab of the ailment. Also, despite the fact that mental health issues are still unmentionable and considered to be a taboo in the society, the author has done a great job on it. The research involved in writing this book is thorough and a proof of how well she has written about the illness.
The only improvement that this book could have had were the parts about Ankita’s gradual procession into the realm of her ailment. They could have been shortened to fewer pages. As it is, towards the end, the novel does grab pace and pulls you back to find out more. It inspires anyone who has felt destiny’s blow in their lives and at the same time, to those who haven’t, it serves as a guide. A fascinating read.
Ushnav is basically from Mumbai and spiritually from Trivandrum. He spends his time juggling between an engaging life at SIMC, Pune and thinking of and putting down ideas for short stories and his novel. He is a ‘poetic photographer’ and a thespian of words.
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