Monday, April 28, 2014

The Crossover Year by Bhargavi Balachandran: A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Crossover Year
ISBN: 978-81-8046-088-3
AUTHOR: Bhargavi Balachandran
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
          The author contacted me via goodreads and sent me a copy for review. I thank her for it.
Meet Sri Anuprabha, aka Anu, a twenty-nine year-old banker who is terrified of entering her thirties. She dreams of quitting her job at the bank, sporting yoga pants and traipsing around the world. Her world turns upside down when things go awry and she is faced with the prospect of spending her days watching Tamil serials. She comes up with a five-point plan for reclaiming her life back before she hits the big 30. But things are never as simple as drawing up a flowchart in real life, are they? Especially with a ghastly recession rearing its ugly head…. Anu bumbles through the corridors of domesticity and travels on a funfilled roller coaster ride in a bid to discover her passion in life.Along the way, she meets new people, experiences crazy new things and learns some hard lessons in marriage, friendship, parenting and life. The Crossover Year is a funny, yet heartwarming story of a woman in search of her identity, and a chronicle of her hilarious quest for discovering her inner mojo. Bring out a platter of cookies and a steaming mug of chai, and join Anu on the ride of her lifetime.
          Some books promise to be great. You open them with an eager anticipation that it will somehow change your perspective on life and love. Then there are some books that are not widely publicised, and are not written by a popular author. These are the books that will surprise you out of your prejudice. Bhargavi Balachandran gave me a treat in this regard. The Crossover Year is one fun novel and it gives you life’s medicines in a sugar coated fashion.
          Anu is a banker in her late twenties, from a typical Tam-Brahm family, married and hating her job. But the self deprecating fashion in which she narrates her story is endearing. There are no larger than life characters and no unnecessary melodrama. (The author provides enough of this by her downright hilarious description of Tamil Serials. And yes, you read that right!) The journey of Anu over a year as she crosses over from stuck-in-a-cubicle-and-suffocated Anu to some woman who realises that life is not all about the rat race. (Yes, the cross over year – 29 to 30)
          What is endearing is not the fact that none of this written in a self-help book style or in a tone that evokes sympathy. It is a learning journey; a fun ride (read) that you don’t know the strain of travel at all. It is more about the writing style than the story itself. Being a Tam-brahm, the essence of the book is so relatable. And the way the scenes are written are simply awesome. You can relate to every moment of the book. From the regular Tamil practices to the tsu-maamis, (the females of the Tam-Brahm race aged above 50, who make it a point to wreak havoc in the lives of their children by maintaining the largest network of matrimonial databases) the book has it all to make you laugh out loud sometimes and nod your heads in agreement most of the time.
          Sample these two scenes:
          The author’s take on how to dance, a friend who teaches Anu the Daler Mehendi routine for most songs!
          Step 1: fly a kite for 20 seconds
          Step 2: drive a tractor for 20 seconds
          Step 3: plough the land for 20 seconds
          Step 4: alternate between the three for 30 seconds
          Step 5: (grand finale step) draw water up the well 5 seconds.
          Anu says about the ‘Three Point Check for a Nice Married Tam-Brahm girl’
o   Check thaali (mangal-sutra)
o   Check kumkum on forehead
o   Check toe-ring
          (The author of course fails the third step and gets attacked by the Mylapore Tsu-maamis for this!)
          If you are a Tam-Brahm, you will relate to every scene ever mentioned. You will understand what Anu feels while trying to fit in with the modern society and also please her parents and relatives. If you are not a Tam-Brahm, you will still relate to the difficulties a woman nearing 30 feels. If you are a man, still read it for the awesome humour and the brilliant writing. Miss the nativity of your region? Read it! Want to spend your time doing something that makes you feel light? Read this book.
          Bottom line: Read The Crossover Year, no matter what your preferences!
WHAT I LIKED: The story, the writing, the characterisation and the incredible visualisation.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: There is nothing to correct, except maybe a few parts of the story where you wish it had been crafted more perfectly. Don't expect a path breaking philosophical book. This is trying to make you think while you laugh.
VERDICT: Go for this. Definitely. (My shortest verdict so far!)
RATING: 4.5/5
Find more about the author here!
You can also find links to her blog and website.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Kindle.
PRICE: Rs. 175 for kindle edition.

1 comment:

  1. This is so overwhelming! Thank you so much for the lovely review :)


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