You’re Not Alone

You're Not Alone by Nityasya BelapurkarAuthor: Nityasya Belapurkar
Publisher: Bombadil Publishing (2010)
Number of Pages: 192
How long it took me to read: 3 weeks, 5 days
Where I bought this book: A recommendation from a literary agent.
ISBN: 978-91-85765-21-8

Like a Moth to a Flame

I have to admit that from the list of books that Sherna Khambatta sent me, this was one of the last titles I wanted to find on my doorstep. On top of the fact that it’s a sour reminder of my negligence as an author (a 16 year old wrote this book, while I write about how I still haven’t written mine), it’s all about the growing pains of enduring the freakishly formative years of high school – a time I would much prefer drowning in tubs of comforting calories topped with delicious dollops of denial and deflection. Yet, I know that the stronger I resist, the more sarcastic the Universe becomes, so with that, I’ll dive into this unavoidable lesson with as much joy as I can muster on this rickety train ride home.

Favorite Five

I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “I made my choice a thousand years ago.” (p.133)

4. “I am back to the beginning. Unpopular, totally weird but I’m in love with myself…” (p.64)

3. “Popularity doesn’t guarantee happiness.” (p.59)

2. “Have you ever looked at something, which may seem perfect to the whole world but is still so incomplete to you? I feel like that all the time.” (p.65)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “Sometimes the right thing and the hardest thing are the same.” (p.51)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“It feels like a million and one characters are about to populate the pages of this book. We’re not off to a good start. Belapurkar bombards the reader with a grocery list of names, rather than describing each personality’s ingredients to reveal each one’s unique flavors. Worst of all, the book’s editor seems to have gone on vacation.”

“Needless to say, it feels like I’m reading a book written by a sixteen-year-old. Having said that, most of us have been sixteen before and some still choose to remember the turmoil that accompanies that awkward period. My job is to look past the rants and focus on the message. I’ll give it a go.”

“The characters talk like American teens. I find I have to periodically remind myself that the book is set in Mumbai. Yet even though the only evidence of cultural diversity is in the characters’ names, I’m still blown away when I read that Aaliyah is eating Corn Flakes for breakfast. Corn Flakes made their way to India? I can’t decide if that’s a good thing.”

“What makes someone grow out of adolescence? Is there a certain wisdom intrinsic to adulthood that enables us to outgrow feelings of confusion, inadequacy and awkwardness? I’m not convinced. I think the feelings that present themselves in adolescence just morph into different shapes as we age.

“Although that realization could seem depressing, it does present a unique opportunity for empowerment. If wisdom isn’t married to any particular age group (i.e., just because you’re older than me, doesn’t mean you’re smarter), then we all have a shot at excellence. I suppose it has to be designed that way – otherwise, what would be the point of trying? I think the biggest mistake we can make is to assume there are rules to this game.”

“It’s quite evident that the editor did a great injustice to this young author. Setting grammar and punctuation aside, the erratic dialogue is distancing me from the book. I’m less invested in the story with each chapter. I don’t know what’s happening, the reason why one character is cutting her wrists, while another is stealing from her impoverished family to buy a dress. Although I can assume what their motives are, the reader shouldn’t be expected to work so hard. The insinuation of a back story supporting the translucent characters is overshadowed by disarray and nonsense. But I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the book’s voice is purposely made difficult to follow. Maybe it’s supposed to sound like a teenaged girl.”

“It doesn’t read like a novel. It reads more like a collection of disjointed short stories depicting the dramatic life of over-privileged, under-parented teenaged girls. The only thing that seems to tie the characters together is a shared school and the gossip floating through its corridors. It would have been nice to get a glimpse of a more complete picture of their interconnected lives with the reassurance that their struggles eventually brought them together. Perhaps if the author had focused on fewer characters, their development would have been more pronounced.”

“How is it that what we know is more comforting than what we’re about to know even though the things we know aren’t all that great in the first place? We regret when we lose, dream when we refuse, and wish in the opposite direction. Adolescence is by no means more confusing than adulthood; it’s just that it comes with a desire to want to define the world, whereas now, I’m much more interested in being at peace with it.”

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  2. Marianne says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. I loved your selection of quotes. A couple of comments, please don’t confuse knowledge and wisdom :-D. I think you hit the head on the nail when you wrote “Maybe it’s supposed to sound like a teenaged girl.” A 16 year old girl IS a teenager, or?

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