It is apparent that a lot of time has been invested in designing the cover. It is predominantly and if I am right, deliberately coloured red with two shades, the top half lighter and the bottom half darker. There are some speckles of the darker colour (like blood), starting at the top and finally forming a pool covering the 'girl in a school uniform holding a gun'. Hats off to the cover-designer. It is very ingeniously crafted, giving a little sneak-peek to the reader that this is not going to be a run-of-the-mill kind of a story, it is gruesome and involves a lot of gore.
Today I am 18.
I have decided to give myself a birthday gift - JUSTICE
My enemies are rich, power and dangerous.
If I want to be alive, I'll have to kill them before they kill me.
I do not care if I die in the process.
At least I will die knowing that I am not a victim anymore.
I am a survivor.
I am going to open a real world, scarier than fiction.
Will you walk with me?
Because if it can happen to me, it can happen to you too
This is a powerful blurb, isn't it? It tells us more about the story. An 18 year old girl, wanting to kill powerful and destructive people while many in the country are trying to find a boyfriend. Jokes apart, it gives us some information furthermore about the story. She is a victim, she is a survivor, she is tough, she has nothing to lose, and that she has went through a lot of pain to take such a drastic decision.
It is a thick book about 400+ pages. I haven't read a thick book that is written by an Indian author. I open the book, and the first thing I find before the story starts is a quote from the epic, Mahabharat. It reads thus:
To save a family, abandon a man
To save the village, abandon a family
To save the country, abandon a village
To save the soul, abandon the earth.
This got me hooked. Excited, I started reading the preface. It was told from the perspective of a five year old girl which put down my excitement. It was a slow start for a thriller. But the pulse raised from chapter two. The girl who is now eighteen, is handcuffed and is in Bangkok, and she has no idea as to how she ends up there. From there, the pulse doesn't reduce. The book follows the first person perspective throughout the story. It is hard to believe that this was a debut, because the author seems to know how to keep a reader guessing which I think is the most important thing that needs to be kept in mind as a storyteller; to make the reader turn the page. That I think the author has got it. She has carefully presented the story to the reader by juggling between the past and present, slowly unraveling the main motive behind the girl's drastic decision. The protagonist, I must say, goes through a lot. Some descriptions are so vivid that it makes the reader go to the place and visualize the amount of pain that the protagonist goes through for no fault of hers. It is bound to leave an unprepared reader teary-eyed. There is a phase in the book which I'd like to call it the depression phase. It comes sometime around in the second half of the book. If the book is compared to a man, it would be fair to say that the book suffered a mid-life crisis that would just break any heart. Having said that the people who inflicted pain upon her are powerful, vicious and disastrous, she is undeterred. She has nothing to lose now, and gets ready for the suicidal feat. On the way through her journey, she meets a guy who goes by the name of Balu, which isn't technically his real name. The author has handled the romance between the two in an unorthodox way, which is good. We don't need girl-victim-finding a helper-falls in love with him right away kind of stories anymore, thanks to the movies that has dusted and tampered with these type of stories. But Sheeja handles it brilliantly. Though the protagonist is eighteen, she acts mature, and at times immature. The way their romance progresses is gradual. And that being said, the people the girl meets whilst pursuing her seemingly implausible feat, pave way to make it possible. She doesn't straight away return back and pull the trigger at the people responsible for the state she was in, it doesn't work that way. She trains a lot, and so much hard that shows how determined she is to go about the plan. Does the formulated plan work out for the best? That forms the rest of the story. The author has portrayed the book in the most realistic manner possible. She has enunciated the fact that life isn't kiss-the-frog-marry-a king-be a queen kind of fairy tale.
Now for the cons. Though the book is definitely a page-turner, the language used could have been a little better. The way things were put could have been conveyed in a better manner, like the ending of the book. The reader gets to know what the author tries to say; it has been left open-ended, which is a brilliant way to end a novel, but having said all that, it could have been written in a much better way.
Overall, it was a fantastic read. It makes the reader go through a turmoil of emotions. This was indeed the most different revenge story that I have read till date and I'd like to thank the author for the experience and wish her best for her future ventures.
A Powerful Debut
Title: Goodbye Girl
Author: Sheeja Jose
Publisher: Whitewall Publishers
Year of Publication: 2015
Price: 299 INR
About the Reviewer:
Aravind Sampath is a voracious reader and an occasional writer. He is currently pursuing his final year in Mechanical Engineering at Chennai Institute of Technology. He has been a part of three anthologies namely, The Chronicles of Urban Nomads, As a Beginner for a Beginning, and A Little Chorus of Love : Love through Ages. His favourite authors to read are R. K. Narayan and Jeffrey Archer. Besides writing, he is a passionate singer who is the lead singer of the band, The Progressive Monks, which will soon release their debut album.