Book Title: Half-Girlfriend
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
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A Bird’s Eye View
About the Storyteller:
Chetan Bhagat is a writer of Indian origin and widely recognized as popular stream writer. The New York Times calls him “the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history”. Of course, you can check the Wikipedia for more info. But I found his official website more informative. I found the Q & A very interesting.
Chetan’s style of writing at least for this novel was very down-to-earth and simple. If I read another story of his, then I can make out if his natural style is to be simple and to the point. But in this novel the storyteller’s voice is very distinctive which I liked.
Chetan as a storyteller gets to my sensitive emotional points, I am invested in the story that he draws out of those bear necessity words. I am someone who reads Virginia Woolf for light reading. I love complex sentences and I am a long sentence writer myself. If sentences get complex and beat around the bush, then one is studiously serious to offer something important to the world. All hail my misconceptions!
But then, if you the above kind of reader, then you are in for a shock, because the main characters one from Bihar and another from Delhi don’t do language. For the most parts, the story moves like an art movie giving an immense sense of reading between the lines. Storyteller was such a pleasure to listen to.
Story in a Nutshell:
A typical college love story and the fate of the lovers in the face of varied life challenges. Relationship definitions under Indian setting and how much goes into maintaining one. The story has been set in contemporary timeline and space-out for a few years. Will the lovers and their love succeed? Well, that is something you might want to read the book and get to know.
The leads Madhav Jha and Riya Somani are in a not-yet-there relationship. A tug of war of emotions that creep in slow process which indicate where the relationship is headed. Simple thing is that the story is about a boy who loves a girl. That girl feels she not yet ready for him and rest of the story is all about why she isn’t and if she would ever be ready to accept his love!
My Likes and Dislikes
There were places in this novel, that I felt Chetan just chickened out. But one thing was very strong for him and that is his English is superlative in its simplicity. He never strayed away from simple and compound sentences and used complex sentences only if he was pushed by the narrative. This makes the story so smooth flowing in the head and reads well.
Books take the head space and I think of it as a tête-à- tête session between the storyteller and the reader. Unlike watching a movie, it is not a communal activity, though the discussion of the books among friends could be a group activity of like or different minded people. So, when I read the book, there were moments when I was rushing to put things together. But Riya’s reasons for her silence was such a shock for me. Do this say that woman are vulnerable all their life on earth.
But I felt Chetan didn’t do a psychological twist on it and couch crashed Riya. I liked that a lot. Sometimes, somethings need to be just not explicit but suggestive. The book is an excellent light read and a travel companion during transit.
This book was a little unusual for me, because I was in the mind of a male and with the view of woman’s thought process from male perspective. Though it was very interesting space to be in, I did feel that emotional complexity and frustration were beautifully administered.
Chetan Bhagat right after Shashi Tharoor was an extreme relief. Shashi’s book cooked my brain while Chetan’s book was a fluffy omelet. IMHO, I believe that this book is wonderfully light reading and of course, the movie version of this book has some beautiful songs.
Image Source: Amazon