Category Archives: Uncategorized

Top Ten Best Loved Siblings From Books

We’re celebrating Rakshabandhan in India today – a day dedicated to sibling/s. And I bring you ten siblings I loved from some of my favourite books.

We all know the classics — Jo and Meg from Little Women, Jane and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, Scout and Jem from To Kill a Mockingbird. I thought I’d look into some of the more recent works — over the last few deacdes. Something written in my lifetime, at least. That might not be really recent but it’ll have to work :-). Here goes:

Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter series by JK
Rowling

Who better, to kick off my list with? I had to have them. Identical twins, who’re not just physically alike but also in every other way you can think of. They were together in every plan, every prank completing each other’s thoughts.

On a side note if you’re a Potterhead and want to see in what ways they were not alike, check out this article here. It’s fascinating, I tell you.

Anna and Kate Fitzgerald from My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Anna was genetically conceived to keep Kate alive – that’s how closely intertwined were the lives of these two sisters. Kate, the older one, suffers from blood and bone marrow cancer and Anna is brought into the world to save Kate’s life by donating her umbilical cord blood. However, the bond they share goes beyond medical procedures.

Katniss and Prim Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne
Collins

Katniss is the quintessential older sister; almost too perfect to be true. She’s tough and bold and smart. She’s the provider while Prim is the baby of the family. Katniss volunteers in place of her sister to participate in the Hunger Games, preferring to court death rather than allowing Prim to do so.

Augie and Olivia (Via) Pullman from Wonder by RJ Palacio

Although Augie was the protagonist of this fantastic book I loved Via a tad bit more than him. It couldn’t have been easy living with brother who required the entire attention of both her parents. Via struggles with feelings of resentment and then guilt. Yet she’s there for Augie when he needs her.

Lou and Treena (Katrina) from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My sister and I argued at length about whether Lou and Treena deserved to be on this list. She insisted they didn’t get along at all. Which is so not true. I mean they had their differences, Lou struggled with her complexes; Treena was clearly the smarter of the two. She (Treena) takes over Lou’s room and Lou resents that. But, but but — remember It was Treena who came up with the idea of Lou taking Will on those trips. She also supports Lou’s decision to accompany Will.

Sam and Patrick in The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky

How many brother-sister duos do you see hanging out together in school? That should be proof enough of Sam and Patrick’s closeness. These step-siblings stick close together, they watch football together, they party together and are privy to each- other’s secrets.

Margot and Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by
Jenny Han

I am still feeling a little bad for leaving out Kitty. After all it was she who started off the whole sequence of events and was aroundmore often. However Margot and Lara Jean’s relationship is more mature. I loved their skype conversations and the way Margot advises Lara Jean. Oh they have their differences but Margot is there for Lara Jean when she really needs her. And that’s what matters in the end. Also, in the third book when Lara Jean tries to break up with she is mimicking Margot – that’s the kind of influence Margot has on her.

Alex and June from Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The first son and daughter of the United States, Alex and June, are another one of my favourite siblings. Alex revels in his mom’s position as the President of the United States. He aims to be a politician himself and loves the hubbub of her office. June, on the other hand, wants to be a journalist, and likes to distance herself just a little bit from it all. What I love about them is that they’re different and yet they are able to connect just as perfect siblings should.

For my last two I’m picking up two books I loved by Indian authors.

Zoya and Zorawar from The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan

If you haven’t read this delightfully Indian cocktail of cricket, advertising and superstition with a dash of romance and Shah Rukh Khan, well then, your life is incomplete. Zoya and Zoravar are absolutely adorable. He calls her ‘Gaalu’ for her cubby cheeks and she says, ‘Basically, Zoravar’s thing in life is to make fun of me.’ That sums up their relationship.

Diya and Anu from Hot Chocolate is Thicker Than Blood by Rupa
Gulab

This one’s another delightful set of chalk and cheese siblings. Diya is the older sister, the good girl with straight As and just as straight silky hair while Anu is the one who’s perpetually in detention with curly hair (that grows horizontally). And that makes her certain she’s adopted. They sisters bond over cups of hot chocolate and it doesn’t really matter if one of them is adopted because after all hot chocolate is thicker than blood. I really must do a proper review of this one.

Even as I’m hitting publish I have a feeling I’ve left some out. So tell me which ones are your favourite.

The Book of Negroes #BookReview

Book: The Book of Negroes
Author: Lawrence Hill

After a bit of break, I’m back to reading African American history.

Most of us have a vague idea of how scores of Africans were sold in European and American markets. We are familiar with slavery through books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or, in a more glorified form, in Gone with the Wind. We read these books, ‘It was terrible’, we say, we shake our heads and then we get on with life.

It’s not until a book like The Book of Negroes comes along, that the horror of it all sinks in. In its entirety. It’s then that we truly begin to understand, just a little bit, what it would have been like.

For that, this book, is a must read.

Set in the 18th-19th century, we hear the story in flashback through Aminata Diallo, daughter of a talented midwife and a jeweller.

While on her way home from a neighbouring village, 11-year-old Aminata is kidnapped. Then on begins a long and arduous journey for her. Along with a group of other village folk, she is yoked by the neck and made to walk.

Aminata befriends a young boy Chekura who is helping the kidnappers. He is sympathetic towards her, bringing her food and water.

After months of walking, goaded along with whip-lashes from their captors they reach the sea. They are then loaded onto ships that sail to Carolina. Ironically, Chekura is also put in along with other Africans, becoming a prisoner himself.

Aminata survives the harrowing ship voyage as also a slave rebellion and lands on the shores of Carolina. She is sold off to Appleby, a ranch owner. She’s a smart young girl, quick to pick up skills, eager to learn new ways and new languages. She has picked up midwifery from her mother and that renders her invaluable.

However, not her intellect, nor any of her skills can protect her from her fate as a slave. She’s beaten and raped and separated from her husband; her child sold off. She moves from Carolina to Nova Scotia and she survives, as does her dream of going back to her village in Africa.

What I thought of it

The Book of Negroes lays bare the cruel practice of Slavery in all detail. It talks about how people from Africa were kidnapped, coerced, shipped, treated worse than animals and bought and sold across America.

The writing is lucid and flows easily. It’s simple and it kept me turning the pages. It is the story that remains the hero of the book. Aminata’s journey is execptional and yet hundreds of millions of blacks faced the same fate, cheated over and over again of their right to exist as humans. Despite its heart-breaking subject, the book manages to maintain an underlying upbeat spirit, perhaps due to it’s protagonist.

Aminata’s character embues the book with optimism, rendering it readable

Right from the beginning it is clear that Aminata is a gifted child. She grows up to be smart and intelligent. Her skill at mid-wifery, her mother’s gift to her, and then later, the gift of education put her in a league above the other black people. It ensures for her, a better life than most others. Which is why the book doesn’t turn into a weep-fest. It did however make me wonder how much worse it would have been for the vast majority of other slaves who were illiterate, uneducated and barely skilled. Would they have had any bright spots in their lives at all? That was a frightening thought.

The African Diversity

We often make the mistake of clubbing the entire African continent as one entity. The book brought home its diversity. It was good to be reminded that there were multiple tribes with multiple languages, dialects and religions. Not every slave could even understand what another one was saying. Also, it was Africans who were capturing other Africans. So to think that all of them were victims would be wrong.

In the end the book is about humanity

On the surface of it, this is a story of the white man against the black, and yet in the end it is about respecting another human, no matter his race or colour. Also, to lay the blame solely at the door of Europeans or Americans would be wrong. Almost every race, at some point, has people trying to prove their supremacy and to undermine others for power or money. Like I pointed out earlier, a lot of Africans were involved in the slave trade too. Closer home in India, the caste system was just a variation of slavery as were practices like bonded labour. None of us are truly exempt from blame.

The book is a reminder that every human deserves to be respected.

Last thought: Read this for a glimpse of African history.

Girl, Woman, Other #BookReview

Women. 
Women of all shapes
Women of all sizes. 
Women of all ages and colours – black and white and all shades between.
Women of all sexes. Yes, that!
Women who aren’t women at all, women who are men, men who are women.
Women who refuse to be defined by this binary structure.
In Girl, Woman, Other


This is one beautiful book.

Girl, Woman, Other charts the lives of twelve British women of colour, their struggles and their wins. 

It begins with ….…

…..Amma’s story, a lesbian theatre person, actor and director. It is the opening night of her feminist play The Last Amazon of Dahomey. Among the audience, we find most of our characters, though we aren’t aware of it just yet. As we turn the pages we are introduced to them in turn.
The narratives overlap sometimes with the women showing up as cameos in others’ stories, taking centre stage in their own.

Amma is there again in the end, wrapping up the book at the After Party of the play along with most of the characters and we get to bid adieu to them all.

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My thoughts

I’ve had this book since December and I’ve started it more than once, then abandoned it each time after a few pages. This time around I decided to stick to it and I’m ever so glad! It evened out after the first fifty pages or so and then on, I found it hard to put it down. Each story is captivating in a whole different way.

The writing style…

…had me lost for a while. Written as poetic prose – prose written and expressed like free-flowing poetry without capitalisation or full stops – it takes a little getting used to. However a few pages down I stopped being hampered by it and began to enjoy its beauty.

The women (and I use that word very loosely)……

…..are flawed. Most of them carry the baggage of prejudices, some due to events in their lives, others purely due to their origin. There’s Bummi, insisting her daughter marry a Nigerian. There’s Shirley a ‘boring’ old school teacher and Carol the banker, successful yet never quite at ease with herself or her identity, no matter where she is. There’s Morgan a social media influencer who refuses to be tied down with man/woman tag. And many more.

I found myself invested in the characters, loving them despite, or perhaps because of their flaws. Evaristo builds each character so that I could see where they were coming from, why they acted a certain way and, when one understands a character, one gets to love them. Not all stories had happy ever afters, not in the conventional sense at least, yet none of them left me feeling dissatisfied.

The book has to be re-read

It just isn’t enough to read it once. I went back and read the first chapter after I finished and then I read Morgans chapter again, because that was my favourite. I will probably be reading bits and pieces, looking for the characters as they enter and exit stories other than their own.

A few things that didn’t seem right

There were some small bits that didn’t quite come together. For instance, there was a part where one of the characters, Morgan, gets into drug addiction, the serious kind. And then one day the reality of his situation sinks in and, while his parents are away on a vacation, he gives it up. Just like that. Evaristo makes it sound easy, too easy. In an almost similar repetitive sequence another character Carol, who seems to have fallen into a depression after she is raped, gets back to normal in the space of a paragraph. ‘I quote: It was like she woke up from like a bad dream..’ with no trigger, no help from anyone, nothing. People change, grow, get a grip on life, I understand that. However for it to happen in a flash seemed improbable.

Also, while I did love the characters, there were a few too many and I was constantly mixing them up, specially in the beginning. As the book progressed, however, they took on personality. Which is why I’ll reiterate, don’t let the beginning of the book stop you from moving ahead.

Despite all of that…

….the book forced me to re-evaluate my thoughts not just on women of colour but on all women, on sexuality and equality and the way people form connections and relationships. It brought home the fact that families come in many forms, that a lesbian woman and a gay man who are friends, can together have a child and that was a family too.

Girl, Woman, Other envelops you like a warm patchwork quilt of engrossing stories.

In one of her interviews, Evarista said she deliberately included twelve women as protagonists, that she wanted to include as many women as she possibly could. If there was a book that dispelled Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s fears, of the dangers of a single story, this would very much be it.

Last thought: This booker winner must be read.

When a Man Hits a Woman #BookBytes 26

Hola folks. Welcome back to another edition of #BookBytes. The lockdown derailed me for a while but I’m back now and I just finished reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I picked it up with some amount of trepidation but I’m glad I did. I won’t go into what the book is about. You’ll have to wait for my review coming right up this Friday. Do drop by.

Meanwhile here’s a quote that struck me with how apt it was.

“You know the worst thing about a man hitting you?” Margery said finally. “Ain’t the hurt. It’s that in that instant you realize the truth of what it is to be a woman. That it doesn’t matter how smart you are, how much better at arguing, how much better than them period. It’s when you realize they can always shut you up with a fist. Just like that.” She mulled over it for a moment, then straightened up, and flashed Alice a tight smile. “Course, you know that only happens till you learn to hit back harder” 

– The Giver of Stars, Jojo Moyes.

I find it hard to handle violence in books as well as films which is why I shy away from them, specially the ones that depict graphic violence against women.

Have you read one that left a lasting impression on you? Would you recommend it?

I happened to watch the Hindi film ‘Thappad’ recently and that brought this quote even more sharply into focus. Hitting a woman is the cruelest, stupidest, most barbaric way of shutting her up.

Perhaps hitting back harder is the only way. What do you think?

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition of BookBytes goes live on 19th May 2020.

Eating Wasps #microreview

Book: Eating Wasps
Author: Anita Nair

You know what’s the best feeling in the world? To pick up a book you’ve not heard of, to pick it up without any expectations, any background, any social media hoohaa. And then to find in it a story that by turns hits you hard, touches you, empowers you. That’s what Eating Wasps did for me.

I was driven to read it simply by its stunningly gorgeous cover. Then the opening line reeled me in:

“On the day I killed myself, it was clear and bright.” 

How can you ignore that?

If you’ve read Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe you’ll know how adept she is at bringing together women centric stories. That’s what she does with Eating Wasps too.

The book opens with an award winning author Sreelakshmi committing suicide. And yet her life doesn’t end. She lives on as a ghost, a piece of a bone. As she flits from the hands of one woman to another she sees, she feels and she tells their story, bringing them together in a delightful read.

The book has multiple characters – girls, teens, women – each the protagonist of her own story, with her own challenges – sometimes internal, sometimes familial, sometimes societal.

My heart broke for Megha while Najma, who had the saddest story of all, made my heart soar. Maya was only too real, a flawed woman, an imperfect mom even as she debates what’s best for her son. Urvashi, Liliana, Brinda – each one has a story to tell.

The book isn’t perfect. The stories don’t come together as seamlessly as I’d have liked them to. Also, it could have done without a character or two while I’d have liked to know more about some of the others. Some of the stories are explored only too briefly, leaving me dissatisfied. And yet it’s a book worth reading because each story is special.

Last thought: Worth a read.

Chai and a book with a dash of nostalgia #WordsMatter

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

It’s a wet wet day but I’m not complaining. I like this respite from the sun. Besides, when it rains, the balcony beckons, the tea tastes better and a book looks ever more inviting. Giving in to temptation, I drag out a bean bag, grab a cup of tea and pick up a book from my nightstand resolutely pushing away thoughts of unmade beds and messy rooms. Just this once, just one hour I promise myself as I settle down for a read.

‘What are you reading?’ did you ask? Here take a look.

Yeah, I recently started re-reading Gone with the Wind as part of a buddy-read.

I pick it up now running a hand over the plastic cover that has turned translucent with age. I imagine myself covering it lovingly, possessively (and numbering it too). It has been a long time since this book came to me, and I mean a really really long time.

As I open it to the first page I find a simple inscription from my aunt.

My aunt marked it is as a gift for my birthday even though it was some six months later.

Reading those well-loved lines brings a smile and a deluge of happy memories. Despite the rain around me it transports me to long hot summer days, of noisy coolers that blasted air along with occasional drops of water and the delicious smell of khus khus, and noisier cousins who played, fought, chatted all day.

Each vacation my aunt would come visiting along with my cousins. Before she left she would get us a gift. Each time she would ask, ‘Do you want a dress or a book?’. Each time, without fail, I’d say, ‘a book’.  And off we’d go to browse and buy.

Books were precious treasures back then. We read a lot yet owned a few unlike now when parents start building a library even before their child is born.

Gone with the Wind was the most expensive book I’d ever wanted. Our budget used to be somewhere around Rs 50 but this came at 60. I well remember standing in the bookstore staring at it, knowing it was beyond reach, too embarrassed to tell my aunt just how badly I wanted it, yet unable to tear myself away from it. And so I stood there, desperately wanting to wish away those ten rupees standing between me and my happiness.

I am not even sure my aunt noticed my dilemma. All she said was, ‘You want it? Okay.’ And just like that, in a heartbeat, the book was mine. I cannot even begin to describe what that meant to me. Not only did I get to read the book but I also got to own it! I went through it at breakneck speed, sitting up late into the nights. I strutted about school for days magnanimously lending it to everyone who asked for it.

As I leaf through the yellowed pages now, I notice a few are coming loose from the binding, some evil silverfish have dug in fine holes too. And yet, each page is more precious than the freshest, crispest, whitest pages I will find in any new edition. So no, I won’t be ordering a new one. I’ll sit down with tape and put the pages together, I’ll leave it out in the sun to get rid of the silverfish and I’ll read it multiple times. I’ll preserve it for as long as I can because, more than a book, it’s a cherished memory.

Do you have a book that evokes a special memory for you? A person who was instrumental in igniting a love for stories?

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I am participating in the #wordsmatter bloghop. I received this tag from teacher and writer Jyotsna Prabhakar who blogs at  Jonaatbest. I’m passing on the tag to the very artistic, very humorous Rajlakshmi at Destiny’s Child. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop for some interesting reads.

Of Roasted Apples and Warm Winter Evenings #BookBytes 14

Here’s my pick for this week’s Book Bytes.

“I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream….. I know how the nuts taken in conjunction with winter apples, cider, and doughnuts, make old people’s tales and old jokes sound fresh and crisp and enchanting.” 

Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the north American Review

I have never had a roasted apple. Definitely never with sugar and cream. In fact I’ve never had a cooked apple apart from an occasional apple pie or the apple stew I used to make for the children before they started off on solids. And yet this quote makes me yearn for one.

It’s not just the apples, right? All the author does is mention a hearth, a winter evening and the sizzling apple. That’s all it takes to tempt my imagination and it rushes up eagerly to fill in details. It conjures up soft yellow lighting (to complement the fireplace), bright fluffy rugs and soft sink-right-in cushions. I’d also include my grandma and a bunch of my cousins to make this scene picture-perfect for she’s the one who would probably be telling those tales and roasting this apple I’ve never eaten.

It’s even more fun to think that reading that passage (without context) can conjure up a completely different image for someone else. He/She might imagine sitting before a fireplace in an old-fashioned pub telling tales with friends, or maybe roasting s’mores at a campfire.

That’s the power of evocative writing – it takes us to our own special place.

On a side note, do make time to read the excerpt from Mark Twain’s autobiography where he talks about the time he spent at the farm with his cousins. It reads like an Enid Blyton book and makes you long to be there.

Is there a passage from a book that stands out in your memory because it made you nostalgic for an experience you might never even have had?

Before you leave:

Do check out  this post by Anamika, where she picks an interesting quote from The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for September 3rd.

Grandma’s words of wisdom #BookBytes -1

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I finally finished reading My Grandmother Sends her Regards & Apologies by Fredrik Backman and it is full of interesting quotable quotes. Here’s one that caught my eye and is so full of wisdom.

Granny then said the real trick of life was that almost no one is entirely a shit and almost no one is entirely not a shit. The hard part of life is keeping as much on the not-a-shit side as one can.

The language might not be quite kosher but granny does have a point.

#BookBytes

If you’ve been dropping by here you’ll know I used to do Teaser Tuesdays. Well with my rather disorganised reading/writing/blogging pattern I struggled with getting the post up on Tuesdays. And so I thought I’d just go with #BookBytes. The idea remains the same except I can post any day of the week.

You can join in too. If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage that leaps out at you demanding to be shared don’t ignore it. Share it on your blog. Leave a link in the comments and I’ll drop by.

Mrs Funnybones #booktalk

Mrs Funnybones-2

Book Title: Mrs Funnybones
Author: Twinkle Khanna

After the entire world had read it, reviewed it and heaped praises on it, finally I got around to reading Twinkle Khanna’s Mrs Funnybones. In fact, this really isn’t a review at all, just some thoughts about the book. If you’re one of the minuscule number who, like me, haven’t gotten around to it you could take a read.

I read her columns, along with millions of others, and like them too but somehow I kept pushing the book away. The thing is I’m a novel -reader. Bits and bytes of storytelling don’t tempt me. But then the kids’ had their exams and I was looking for something  short, light and happy that I could read on and off between their multiple calls for help. Mrs Funnybones fitted the bill to a tee.

This is a collection of, what seem like journal entries or blogposts, from the life of Twinkle Khanna – a mom of two.

What would have otherwise been random disconnected, though interesting, slice-of-life entries, transform into an engrossing read by her unfailing wit and self-deprecatory humour with bits of life-learnings thrown in. The book is a perfect mix, specially in my current preoccupied state of mind.

I shared this quote on twitter last week. I loved it and apparently, so did some 600 other tweeples.

 

Mrs Funnybones quote

Twinkle Khanna had a short stint at Bollywood, is the wife of a famous actor and the daughter of one too, however the book doesn’t read like the life of a celebrity. And yet there is no effort to block off the famous family members or shy away from the fame – the husband’s or the mom’s. They step in and out of the pages of the book perhaps just as they walk in and out of the house – easily, naturally, nonchalantly. I enjoyed those  glimpses.

The book has plenty of endearing moments – her sleeplessness over an impending photoshoot as also her worry when a bunch of family members descend at her home for a festive get-together, her rush to the book-store to buy a book that her son needs for an assignment, her impatience with fasting for Karwa Chauth, yet finding the fun in the festivities. Enjoyable, relatable.

The best thing about Mrs Funnybones is that she finds a connect with you without ever getting mundane.

I have to add, though, that try as I might I cannot picture her hailing an auto with two children in tow. Are the days of famous people being mobbed really all gone? Or even that bit where she’s frying McCain samosas in the kitchen, drenched in sweat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disbelieving her, just finding it hard to. No, it isn’t the same thing.

Last Thought: A perfect read for the in-between times.

Big Little Lies – A Review

Beat About the Book

Book Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Lian Moriarty

This review is long long overdue and yet I’m doing it not because of a professional commitment but because I’d promised myself this book was too good to be buried in my “read’ list and forgotten. I know I’ve raved about it on social media so that almost all my friends have read it and yet I’m going ahead with the review because it’s worth it :-).

I already said in my Teaser Tuesday how Big Little Lies kept me awake at nights. I’ll add now that it lived up to its promise right up to the last chapter.

The Story

This is essentially the the story of three kindergarten moms whose children start school together. They all go to Pirriwee Public School. There’s Madeline, mom of two – a teenage daughter (with her ex-husband) and a kindergartener. There’s the ethereally beautiful Celeste who has a pair of rambunctious twin boys and there’s Jane and her son. There are two more moms who are a crucial part of the story – Renata, the high-flying executive mom and, Bonnie, wife of Madeline’s ex husband.

Did I just confuse you? Well just go over this again because these are the ones you need to watch out for. There are half a score more that had me thoroughly confused for the first few pages of the book. However as I read on they began to take on personality and form alignments and cliques.

That’s the best bit about the book – it unravels slowly, page by page and that is what keeps you hooked.

But I’m digressing. Back to the story.

The book opens with a murder but you don’t get to know who was killed till the very end. So while most thrillers focus on figuring out ‘who did it’ and ‘how it was done’, in this one we’re also wondering who died. A murder investigation thread runs through the book.

But that isn’t the only mystery. On the first day of school Jane’s son, Ziggy, is accused of bullying Renata’s daughter Amabella. While Amabella says it’s him, he steadfastly refuses to accept his crime. His mom, Jane’s believes him instinctively, but she has a secret which prompts her to doubt him.

What I felt/thought

Big Little Lies has the distinction of making me break my resolve of never reading the end of a book before I actually get to it. Twice.

This might make the book seem like a thriller, which it is, but to say that it is just that wouldn’t be fair. It is much more, bravely tackling issues like domestic violence, rape, co-parenting, single parents, stay-at-home moms vs working moms and teenage angst. There are scores of everyday issues that kindergarten moms handle – last minute school projects, birthday parties, playdates, bullying and of course parent politics. I could identify with a lot of it and that’s what made the book enjoyable.

The TV series

While I’m at it, I also have to mention the television series based on the book starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley.

I watched it after I read the book because I simply didn’t want to step out of the Big Little Lies haze.

It’s a great watch with some wonderful moments and inspiring dialogue. My favourite bit is where Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste, takes up a case (she was a practicing lawyer before she had the twins). She scores a win in the negotiations and comes away on a high. And she shouts out, ‘Being a mother is not enough for me.’ I loved that scene. The sense of freedom she feels in verbalising that thought, which perhaps has been dormant  in her head for some time, is so beautiful to watch. Also, the scenes of domestic violence are brutal. They made me snap out of my long time crush on Alexander Skarsgard (which I’d developed after watching The Legend of Tarzan), completely and very rudely, I might add.

It is available on Hotstar in India, in case you want to watch it.

That said, I have to mention that the book is much better. It is much more layered revealing the story bit by bit while never letting the pace flag. Do read it first. You’ll know why I say so once you do.

Last thought: Go for it.