Hot Chocolate Is Thicker Than Blood by Rupa Gulab is a novel suitable for 10 to 15 year old kids, but worth a read for their parents too, because parents sometimes forget what it was like to be a teen. It deals mainly with adoption, and teen crushes. But it also shows how a teacher can become a mentor and shape a child’s future; it embraces the idea of therapy as an effective way to deal with teenage angst, especially under unusual circumstances.
Anu is studying for her X standard board exams. But there are so many things on her mind. She doesn’t consider herself to be attractive, but has plenty of crushes on guys. Her hair is unmanageable and is the bane of her existence. Also it is unlike any other family member’s hair, which makes her suspect she is adopted. Her elder sister Diya, on the other hand, seems to her to be the picture of perfection. Not only is she smart, athletic and gorgeous with a knack for academics, she is also warm, polite and understanding. She has a wonderful boyfriend and is in a happy relationship and hardly notices how heads turn when she passes by.
Although Anu envies her sister, they are best of friends and Anu fiercely loves Diya and at the same time, finds her perfection immensely frustrating. Unlike some teens, Anu also has a great relationship with her parents, though she thinks they do favour Diya. But then again, who doesn’t? Everyone is school can’t imagine how perfect Diya’s, little sister can be such a disappointing, talentless mess.
But when a certain secret is disclosed, Anu’s close knit family is in danger of falling apart. Anu’s world is on the verge of crashing, as the only source of stability and happiness in her life, her family, is fighting a losing battle against hurt, insecurities, loathing and despair. Adversity brings out the best in Anu, by forcing her to become responsible and focussed. Anu also finds someone else, a teacher, to be close to, to replace the sudden void of affection in her life. This special teacher discovers and nurtures Anu’s innate talents hidden deep within her rude and carefree exterior.
Read the story to find out how the family copes with various realistic problems, only to realize that bonds forged and soulful conversation shared over hot chocolate are indeed deeper than the bonds of DNA.
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- The story maintains a decent degree of suspense, without becoming over dramatic. The thoughts, feelings, insecurities and somewhat self-centred perspective of a teen are very well presented. The book may help teens and their parents understand each other better.
- The book makes several references to other literature and is likely to get teens curious about the those books and poems.
- The book introduces teens to the ideas of divorce, adoption, therapy and teen pregnancy in a way that encourages them to be sensitive rather than judgemental.
- It encourages kids to look beneath the surface, to find out what makes people behave the way they do, and not judge them until they know their story.
- Anu’s commentary on people and situations is often humorous and sarcastic.
“what she really suffers from is verbal diarrhoea”
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- The book shows that parents too, make mistakes. They get so absorbed in sorting out a crisis situation with one daughter, that they neglect the other one to the point of rudeness. Partly, they are over compensating because they feel guilty. They don’t realize how much harm they do in the process by hurting a teenager, who takes it to mean that she is less loved than her sister.
- The book suggests that, even well adjusted, thriving teens attach great importance to their identity, and their world comes crashing down if that foundation is shaken up.
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- A taste of the emotional roller-coaster every teen is on, in their confusing daily life involving family, friends, academics, teachers and hormones.
A journey through the teenage mind and heart.
A copy of this book was given me by the publishers, Duckbill in return for an honest review. Thanks Duckbill.