Let me begin with an honest confession. Savi Sharma is no Arundhati Roy or Anita Desai. Or even Chitra Banerjee, for that matter. At least, not yet. Now you ask, why do I begin a review of a debutante author with unjust comparisons?
Well, ever since Savi Sharma published her first book Everyone Has a Story, it has sold over 200,000 copies, making her the first female author in India to achieve this kind of success. Such was the curiosity about this sudden rise of a young author, that her achievement was scrutinized, and much credit was given to Ashish Bagrecha, her marketing expert for the phenomenal sales figures. As for Savi’s literally skills, for most part, the verdict has been negative. In light of all this, I had my initial apprehension about reading Everyone Has A Story. That was until one day, when I had a change of heart.
“Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is a writer. Some are written in the books, and some are confined to hearts.”
Thus begins the story that traces the lives of 4 characters – Meera, Vivaan, Kabir and Nisha, through the eyes of the former two in first person narration. Meera is a 26 year old aspiring writer, who is looking for a story to kick-start her writing career. A story with which she wishes to inspire millions. Her dream is realized when in an author’s book launch in a cafe which she frequents in her spare time, Meera meets a young banker named Vivaan. He is an aspiring globetrotter, waiting for the right opportunity to travel the world, leaving behind all shackles of daily life. Vivaan’s wanderlust gives Meera the idea which she was looking for. And she starts penning down her story into her diary.
Soon romance blossoms between them with the help of the cafe manager Kabir who in turn, has his own romance with Nisha (that is relegated mostly to the background). All is going well, until one day when Vivaan goes missing without notice. After frantic searches, Meera finds out that he has left his job at Citi Bank and gone for his long-cherished vacation without even informing her or saying goodbye!
A heartbroken Meera realizes her worth in Vivaan’s life. Will she ever get to meet him again? Is Vivaan indeed as fickle-minded, or is there more than what meets the eye? And most of all, will Meera at last publish her book – which was the very point from where it all began? Read Everyone Has a Story to know more…
What I didn’t like:
Normally, I begin with the positives in my book reviews. This time I’d like to make an exception, and for a reason. To be honest, it is pretty much evident at the very onset that Everyone Has a Story is the work of a first-timer. The language is inconsistent and amateurish in parts, and reads more like a diary entry of a teenager than a professional novel. The plot is wafer-thin, and the characters one-dimensional. Shifting narratives between Vivaan and Meera do very little to enhance the plot, as both sound essentially the same in their tone and thoughts. There is very little insight into the background of the characters such as their parents, where they come from, why are they doing what they are doing, etc. The protagonists seem to be too engrossed with their own little problems to even think about their families or other friends. Towards the end, the story loses grip over logic and rationality as well. In short, the naivete of a debutante is stamped all over the book.
The biggest flaw, however, lies elsewhere. Everyone Has a Story reads like a tale written by a girl living in her fantasy world with very little attachment to reality. There is little to no exploration of nuance in the characters and the situations. The plot is convenient and the conflict in the end too simple to be called a conflict that resolves itself in a few pages.
What I liked:
Having said all of the above, let me make one more confession: I perfectly understand why this book is a bestseller. Despite a hundred flaws, one cannot deny that Everyone Has a Story has been written with little talent perhaps, but a lot of heart and soul. It is possible that in parts, Meera’s story is drawn from the author’s own life experiences. The writing is fast-paced, and subtly inspirational in its approach. Some quotes will make you stop and think, like this one here —
“Some pieces of life find themselves so attached to our minds that when they are gone, they remind us of themselves a lot more than before. Yet someday we will realize that every piece becomes blurry, every memory starts fading. Just like an old book.”
I wrote the positives in the end bcoz, that’s exactly how the story unfurled itself to me. Despite the colossal technical flaws, I was left with an unexpected smile in the end.
I began this review by comparing Savi Sharma to stalwarts like Arundhati Roy. This is to concur with her harsh critics who rightly point out the immaturity in her craft. And I’d also mention that her book may not entice readers who prefer plot-heavy novels. But the simple emotions she has penned down through touching, inspirational words would surely hit the right chord. Especially for those who have a similar dream as the protagonist Meera. This is where Everyone Has a Story, despite its bumpy ride and shortcomings, rises above other contemporary cheesy romances that leverage steamy sex scenes to lure young minds.
And thus, despite having thought of giving it 1.5 stars out of 5 initially, I am going with 2.5 instead.