Title: It's Not About You
Author: Ratna Vira
Ratna Vira’s ‘It’s Not About You’ charts a family’s journey wrought through emotional upheaval at the face of a tragedy that befalls them uninvited.
Single mother Samaira juggles her corporate job and Aksh, her teenage son, even as she defies society, disapproving in-laws and her own family. But when Aksh is found battered and beaten at school, she finds herself questioning her role as a mother. Faced with a conspiracy of silence from the school, she delves deeper only to discover the murky world of bullying, the secret life of teenagers and the emotional distance between parents and children.
In her pursuit of truth and justice, Samaira ends up challenging the power equations of politics, wealth, and influence.
Though in this condensed version of the novel the story appears to be unilateral, there’s much that goes unsaid. And it is this ‘unsaid’ that sets apart the book in the literary milieu. Ratna has tackled the vast and disturbing issue of bullying with such dexterity that it keeps the reader thinking even after the book ends. What is to be noted here is that it’s not just Aksh, Jay, or Priya who have been harassed. Samaira had her own share of bullying in her own family. The setting can be anything, the circumstances may also differ, what remains the same are the bullies who are drunk with power, position, authority, and money.
The story is sordid, grim, and beautiful all at once. It leaves behind a message for the readers — only by looking beyond the social, class, and economic differences can we become good humans. The dirty game of politics has seeped into our very bloodstream and it is time that we rise above and beyond. We need to fight our own demons, stand up to what’s inappropriate and not cower at the face of bullying of any sorts.
Ratna’s writing technique is simple yet profound. She knows how to elicit the desired emotions from her readers, keeping them hooked to the very end. But there are a few things that I couldn’t overlook. The novel drags at certain places to the point of becoming boring. In several chapters nothing actually happens. The story seems repetitive. The ending is quite rushed. The entire story actually unfolds itself in mere paragraphs. However, ‘It’s Not About You’ is a must read and I’d recommend it to all and sundry.
About the Author:
Ratna Vira is a human resource and communications professional with a master’s degree from London School of Economics, a master’s in English Literature from St Stephen’s College and an MBA. She lives in Gurgaon with her daughter and son. It’s Not About You is her second novel.
* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in