10 August, 2016

#BookReview :: Asmara's Summer by Andaleeb Wajid


'For a month, I’m going to be living a lie.'

Seventeen-year-old Asmara is popular, funny and pretty, but has a secret that could destroy her street cred in college: her grandparents live on Tannery Road, an area known for its lower-middle-class Muslim population—an area she’s always ensured she’s avoided. And now, to her horror, she discovers that she must spend her entire summer vacation there. Will it be a nightmare, or a lesson in self-discovery? Or both? Will Asmara find herself in the bylanes of Tannery Road? 


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I had heard a lot (only good things) about this author and have had my eyes on her Tamanna Trilogy for some time but never had the opportunity to lay my hands on one of her books. So when Penguin Random House had this book on their review list, I just had to pick it up.

Asmara had plans for the summer and that did not include spending all of it with her grandparents in a ‘down market and tacky’ neighbourhood. Unfortunately, all her plans of having a good time abroad is dashed when a last moment turn of events land her at her grandparents’ place for one whole month. Horrified by the turn of events, she decides to live a lie for a month. Then she finds out that life at her grandparents was just what she was afraid of. The conservative neighbourhood dampens her spirits and her grandparents seem to have a problem with her own lifestyle. With the lack of wi-fi, Asmara strikes up a feeble friendship with a girl & her very handsome brother in the neighbourhood. What happens next and how does the summer end?

I find that there are not many contemporary Young Adult writers in English in India. It is a shame because even though I am an adult who is young at heart, I love reading YA books and I am happy to report that Asmara’s Summer is a nice addition to the genre.

I did not particularly like Asmara’s character. Don’t get me wrong, the author has done a wonderful job in developing her and narrating her story. It is just that Asmara is a typical haughty teenager and while that is to be expected, there are places where I felt she was like a spoilt brat who only knows how to turn her nose up. I get it that she is used to a certain kind of lifestyle and living with her conservative grandparents for a whole month can feel suffocating, but the way she looks down on people without really knowing them or their culture and background is just not a likeable trait. While her character does gain some depth, this is not a story about a miracle of how she changes over the course of one month. This is a story of her experiences for that one month through her point of view. That brings me to the plot… It is a simple one with no unpleasant surprises. There were few ‘issues’ that could be highlighted in this book. But the author has handled them as facts of life instead of focusing on them as issues that we need to deal with. In any case, I did like the fact that the author has kept the plot quite light and easygoing because the result was a few hours of unadulterated entertainment. The author’s language and narrative is remarkable and is certainly one of the reasons why this book should be picked up by young adults.


Review Copy received from Penguin Random House


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