At the start of this month, I had hoped to have a review here, every day. You know how these things go, don’t you? Today, I’m so glad to have Vidya Sury pitching in with a review of The Helpline – a book she received for review from The Book Club. Thank you, Vidya and welcome to From 7Eight. I do hope to see more of you here.
Vidya Sury is a Mom, writer, editor and blogger. She loves coffee, books, music, cooking, DIY, people, photography and collecting smiles. She blogs at Vidya Sury, Coffee With Mi and Be healthy, Be happy
Book Review: The Helpline by Uday Mane
Book: The Helpline by Uday Mane
Author: Uday Mane
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd
Category: Literature and Fiction
Samir is suicidal. Rachael works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir’s story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life. As his story reaches its conclusion, Rachael will know the true reason behind his suicidal tendencies. But this suicide helpline is not any ordinary service. There is more to the mysterious and yet so convincing voice of Rachael. As this new mystery begins to unfold, Samir is going to discover three things:
What is The Helpline?
Who is Rachael?
What is Samir’s own identity?
Every year, several teenagers in India attempt suicide because of failing relationships, dwindling careers, parental pressure or the competitive world. This story is about one such teenager, his early problems and the hurdles to cope with them. This story is about finding hope in the struggle. This story is about fighting for what you believe in and discovering your true identity. This is not a story about falling in love. This is a story of rising from a failed love story.
Samir, when we meet him in this novel, is all of 20 years old and fed up with life. As he oscillates from consciousness to substance abuse-induced oblivion, his life story unravels in parts, beginning with his childhood.
Here is an individual who apparently has everything he could want – a rich politician dad, a loving grandfather for the first fifteen years of his life, a caring family and yet, he is directionless. He drifts along life, seemingly with no interest in anything except the dream of becoming a writer. He enrols in engineering college thanks to his Dad’s influence and drops out before he can finish it, because his heart is not in it.
The book opens with a rather long-drawn out nightmare scene in the prologue followed by present-day Samir. We meet his steady friend, Neha who went to college with him. She cares for his wellbeing and when she knows that he’s suicidal, encourages him to wake up and move on with life. She urges him to get help, which prompts Samir to call a crisis helpline number and talk to the mysterious Rachael. Thus starts his conversation with her, as he recalls his life story which includes his meeting with Riya, the girl he loves. Samir first meets Riya when he is 12, at the goodwill foundation for handicapped children run by his grandfather. Riya has a brother who is a special child with Down’s Syndrome and she is dedicated to taking care of him.
Life happens and they move on and meet again when Samir is in engineering college at an event where Riya has her art exhibited and Samir is scheduled to present his story. They get close, admit their love for each other. Fate has the last laugh when Riya opts to take the path her Dad chooses for her, which means she will be away for two years. Samir is upset and then, when they meet for the last time, a twist of Fate brings tragedy to Samir’s life, which is what he is battling with throughout the book.
So, here is the thing:
While I empathize with anyone who feels suicidal and agree they need all the help they can get, I am afraid I did not warm up to Samir’s character. I found him somewhat whiny and uncooperative when he had everything going for him.
The book probably seeks to highlight the fickle and vulnerable state of mind teenagers are prone to – but even the unfortunate characters in the book, who had to struggle for things, managed to come out strong.
So why did Samir, at 20, behave the way he did? Just because the girl he loved chose to be strong and pursue her studies and look after her Dad’s business? Granted he felt responsible for what happened when they last met – but does that warrant wasting his life, ignoring those who care for him and turning suicidal?
And at the end of the book, the epilogue made absolutely no sense.
I had a tough time finishing this book mainly because of the spelling errors, grammar gaffes, no sense of preposition use or sentence syntax. It always upsets me to see a published book so desperately in need of editing – this one did not even have the basic corrections. This always takes away the joy from reading and I only saw it through the end because of my commitment to review it.
2/5 only because I liked Neha’s character. I appreciate friendships and thought she was an absolute champ, even if Samir was taking advantage of it. I also liked the character at the Kyanis café which features in the book as a meeting place for Samir and Riya.
I am glad that Rs. 5 from the proceeds of each copy of the book will be used for child welfare through The Rotary Foundation.
I received a review copy of the book from the author via The Book Club. I signed up to review the book as the blurb sounded interesting and was disappointed.