I don’t know, why I haven’t read Paro Anand before. This book is a collection of young adult fiction short stories but anyone can read them and identify themselves with the stories. I came to know through Google search that Paro Anand has written many such books and each book presents narratives about the difficult world from a child’s point of view or someone very close to the child. When there is a conflict, minor or major, adults deal with it in an adult kind of way but we often forget about the children. Sometimes, they sort it out, sometimes not. Sometimes they carry it throughout their adulthood also. Like Smoke is no different and hence I say, everyone can identify with it.
This book is a small book in terms of no. of pages and it can be read in one sitting, but the author urges the reader to pick up the book and read one story at a time, in no particular order. In her words, “the story that catches your eye, matches your mood, scratches your itch.” I completely agree with it as each story will make you put down the book and make you think about it. Sometimes, you spend 2-3 days thinking about it.
Even now, when I am trying to write a review of the book, I am completely in loss of words. Not that it is the best book in it’s genre but doing a review will be difficult for me and I will not be justifying the book. Looking at the larger view, let me try to introduce the book to you, if you have not already read it.
Each story provides an insight to the mind of a teenager and it hits the chord with all of us at some point or the other. Each story deals with a conflict of a different kind and the treatment it received was also different. Sometimes, the conflict is of very trivial nature such as a word in two different languages having completely different meanings leading to funny situations, but most of the times the conflict is grave like a death of parents due to acts of terrorism or other societal evils.
Unlike most of the young adult fiction writers, Paro Anand does not try to say that the world is a beautiful place and all the evil happens in some fantasy stories. She meets the evil eye-to-eye as if she is trying to say, “Look I am afraid of you, but I am not going to lose even if I am not going to win.” She also does not try to tell the stories in a pseudo-activist kind of way who is skeptic of most of the things but being a master story teller, she tells the stories in an interesting way which keeps the reader glued till the end. So, even if the stories deal with some hard facts of life, it does not make you pity the characters of the story. It also does not try to solve the problems but it does tell the young reader that they are not alone facing the problem. She is also very good with the titles keeping the hook to the story right to the end.
I am also amazed with the simplicity of writing. The sentences are kept short making it an easy read for children while also maintaining a consistent quality.
So, once again I would like to say that go and grab the book.
P.S. – Through Google, I came to know that she has written a fabulous book called “No Guns at my Son’s Funeral”. Try to get hold of the book also.
P.P.S. – Sorry for being redundant throughout this post, but I couldn’t help it.
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