“Talking of Muskaan” by Himanjali Sankar explores the life and pains of Muskaan, a fifteen year old girl, who realizes that she is lesbian and hence does not fit in with her friends.
On a december morning, Muskaan’s friends, summoned by the principal, are shocked to know that Muskaan had tried committing suicide the previous night. With three parallel narratives from the points of view of her friends and classmates, Aaliya, Prateek and Subhojoy, Muskaan’s story unfolds.
The story actually starts five months earlier, when Muskaan confesses with Aaliya, her best friend, that she is not straight. The confession ends in Muskaan lip-locking with Aaliya.
Aaliya’s subsequent avoidance of Muskaan and the bullying by her schoolmates gradually push an academically well-performing Muskaan into another world of pain and loneliness.
How the world around her is insensitive to her and how she is pushed to take the extreme step is what the story is about.
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- A very sensitive and touching portrayal of what happens through the mind of a teenage girl, when she realizes that she is lesbian. How she is unable to mix or mingle and eventually how she is unable to defend herself against the bullies is brought out well in the sequence of events.
- A word (or two words?) has to be said about the cover photo by Sayoni Basu and cover design by Ayushi Saxena. Just perfect!
- The clever coincidence of the date (11 December 2013) of Muskaan’s suicide attempt with the Supreme Court ruling that recriminalized homosexuality. The subsequent questions raised with respect to the life of a teenager are pertinent.
- The sequence of events leading to Muskaan’s decision is well-conceived and very natural. The author has done an excellent job of bringing to the fore the lifestyle of today’s teenagers.
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- Slightly slow-paced in parts.
- A couple of editing oversights.
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- I am really impressed with the theme of the book. Choosing the topic of homosexuality for a book meant for young adults so as to sensitize them to the topic, shows responsible minds behind it. Laudable effort by the author, Himanjali Sankar and the publishers, Duckbill.
- When Aaliya says that her mother may pretend to be liberal and open-minded, but in reality she had not done anything deviant or weird, I felt as though the accusing fingers were pointed at me. Do we have the right to talk or write about such a topic when we cannot fully understand what it takes to be different?
A copy of this book was given me by the publishers, Duckbill in return for an honest review. Thanks Duckbill.