Monday, February 11, 2019

Book Review: The Lies We Tell by Himanjali Sankar

Title: The Lies We Tell
Author: Himanjali Sankar
Publisher: Duckbill

Himanjali Sankar’s ‘The Lies We Tell’ is the story of three teens, standing at the cusp of adulthood, who are trying to make sense of life and its meaning.

Sankar moves the plot nimbly, creating such an engrossing story of teenage life on the margins that readers will find it difficult to leave the book before it’s done.

17-year-old Irfan Ahmed’s life is thrown upside down when his girlfriend Uma breaks up with him. What is worse is that she has left him for his best friend Rishi, souring the bond of their friendship. Sensitive by nature, Irfan has been already grappling with the departure of his older sister Sanya whom he adores more than anyone else. Hit by life thus, Irfan stops playing cricket, gives up music, cuts himself off from all his friends, and withdraws into a world where his only solace comes from writing emails to his sister.

The wholly realistic view of adolescents getting influenced by what they hear, see, and experience and how their fragile psyche cope up with the goings on has been beautifully shown through Irfan and Rishi. The sudden revelation of certain things gives the book a whole new dimension and we are left marveling at the writer’s genius. Irfan’s portrayal from a gentle soul to a vengeful victim is affecting. So is Rishi’s spiraling life. He comes across as the antagonist of sorts. Through their eyes the writer is seeing and showing the complicated lives within nuclear families where everyone is living a separate life. She talks of broken homes, broken hearts, and broken people.

Sankar readily touches upon the issue of mental illness among children. With the world evolving at the pace it is, the lives of children, especially adolescents, have become quite complex. In the writer’s own words, the young adults don’t always understand the “jaded socialised behaviour of adults.”  

An astoundingly surprising plot with a respectful, authentic rendering of mental illness.

Himanjali Sankar grew up in Kolkata. She completed her masters and MPhil in English Literature from JNU, New Delhi. She has taught English to undergraduate students and been an editor with various publishing houses. Her first book for children, The Magical Adventures of Skinny Scribbles, was published in May 2012.

I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy:

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