Author: Dr. Vivek Banerjee
Publisher: Cedar Books
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It is the story of the young doctors as they pursue PG in medical college and then make their way into the real world. Rahul and Sarika are in love right from the UG days but they keep fighting till a potentially fatal accident decides it for them. Hina, a young women from the by-lanes of Bhiwandi, find the lifestyle of her co-students more difficult to adjust to than the academic challenges. Ranjiv, a rich kid turned rebel who would travel his own path rather than the one laid by his famous doctor dad. Sagarika, who finds her American dream shattered unexpectedly.
I was skeptical to pick up this one, mainly because the theme of Medical romance has been exploited numerous times in the past specially on Indian TV with shows like Sanjivani on Star plus and Dill Mill Gayye on Star one. Most of these shows start as medical dramas but ultimately side track into full blown romances. 'The Long road', however, creates an optimum balance between the challenges of the medical profession and interpersonal relationships of doctors and hospitals.
Not as funny as Anirban Basu's Bombay Rains, Bombay girls nor as emotionally compelling as Erich Segal's Doctors, its a done-and-dusted kind of book which won't stay in your head too long once you are done reading it. But it has inherent sincerity attached towards it, the dialogues are relatable and effectively brings about the pressures of the medical profession. Relying more on content than treatment, the book moves at a brisk pace shuffling between the vulnerabilities and complications of professional and personal lives of its characters. The charm of the narrative lies in its simplicity and your ability to feel empathic with the four main characters here.
However, the 5th character of Sagarika is poorly developed and could have been completely edited out as it makes an iota of a difference to the main story. She disappears miraculously after her initial introduction scene at the start of the PG degree and appears only on the last day of the college. The twist in her 'American life' is not only cliché but so predictable, you can guess it as early as the first scene after her marriage to a NRI husband.
Paradoxically, the strength of the book is also its drawback. It is so simple in its narrative that the inherent drama is almost absent. The conflicts between the characters are resolved too quickly and too easily making you wonder what was the fuss all about in the first place. The only saving grace is tight editing and avoiding self indulgences which have become so common with debut authors. On the other hand, it suffers the same too-much-info-in-chapter-title as Chitralekha Paul's Delayed Monsoon, it just gives away all the suspense.
I am going with 2.5/5 for Vivek Banerjee's first book, 'The long road'. It's fun in parts and at 176 pages, it is a easy, breezy read. If you are fan of simple storytelling and not looking for too much investment in a book, this one is just right for you. But I tell you honestly, Dr. Banerjee can do much better than this!