“Half Girlfriend” by Chetan Bhagat is the story of a romance between a boy and a girl from different circumstances and backgrounds. Written in a typical Chetan Bhagat pattern, it has a prologue where the protagonist meets CB at critical juncture of his life.
The major part of the story is revealed as a flashback till the present time in the prologue, after which a revelation or some hitherto unknown information is revealed to the protagonist, which prods the protagonist onward until the issue is resolved. It is a light and breezy read.
Madhav Jha from rural Bihar, who isn’t conversant in English gets admission to St. Stephen’s College, Delhi through the sports quota. He meets Riya Somani, a rich Marwari girl, from Delhi. A friendship blossoms between them. Riya is content to be friends, whereas Madhav wants more. They split. Riya gets married and drops out of college. Madhav goes back to his hometown to manage the school run by his mother.
Years later, chance once again throws Riya and Madhav together. Madhav is working hard to get funds to keep his mother’s school afloat; Riya, now divorced and working on a marketing job for a multinational is picking up her life again.
Riya offers to help Madhav with his English to make a presentation to the Gates Foundation for support to his school. They still have a spark for each other. They meet often and their camaraderie grows, despite the apparent disapproval of Rani Sahiba, Madhav’s mother. Madhav makes a successful presentation to the visiting Gates delegation, but Riya disappears without a trace, leaving a letter saying that she suffers from terminal lung cancer with just a few months more to live. All efforts of Madhav to trace her fails and he lives a dejected life.
At this juncture he meets CB and gives him Riya’s journal/diary for him to read; it is to be noted that he hasn’t read the journal himself. This comes as the prologue. And then, in true CB style, the entire Madhav-Riya story is told as a flashback by Madhav to CB. CB on reading the journal discovers some shocking details about Riya’s life; he asks Madhav to read those journal entries, which have the potential to change Madhav’s life forever. What happens next? Read Half Girlfriend, or wait till it may be released as a bollywood movie starring Deepika (she’s tall enough to be a basket ball player) and Arjun Kapoor.
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- A book by CB is preceded by a whole lot of commentary, both positive and negative. As a reader one looks for these positive and negative observations while reading. To my surprise there is nothing significantly positive or negative about this book, so most of my observations are neutral.
- Bhagat attempts to empathize with the average non-English speaking youth of India. He is partly successful in being able to capture the insecurities of this group of people. However, all these are related to one and only one aspect of his life, viz., love, or more crudely, related to sex. What could have been a wonderful opportunity to showcase the success of persons from this demographic, simply peters out as a trite love story. If his aim was to change young India with his writing, he hasn’t made much headway with this book.
- A story written with Bollywood in mind. See what a Quora post says about Half Girlfriend.
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- There is just one significant character, who unfortunately seems to have only one agenda on his mind. The other characters too haven’t been fleshed out.
- There are sufficient plot holes, if one wants to find fault, but what the hell it is just a story, so chill.
Half Girlfriend – hackneyed bollywood script.