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August 7, 2014

Book Review - 170 : Bubble Wrap

Author : Kalyani Rao
Publisher : Harlequin

When twelve-year-old Krishna marries Shyam Singh of Rokhagadh, her grandmother gives her a box filled with jewelry, telling her to sell it in times of trouble, but otherwise to hide it from her parents and in-laws. Krishna's marital home is very different from the house she grew up in - she is not allowed to go to school, but has a female tutor coming home to teach her once a week. She soon learns that her father-in-law, a drunkard and a lecher, who is not above carrying on with a maidservant, is deeply in debt and expects her father to help him out. 

Krishna's fifteen-year-old widowed cousin, Gudiya, accompanies her to Rokhagadh, but is ill-treated by Krishna's in-laws, culminating in her rape by Krishna's father-in-law, on Diwali night. When Krishna's father learns of this, he wants to take both girls away immediately, but dies soon after, in a mysterious "accident" and Gudiya finds herself pregnant.
The Singhs are willing to help her, provided it is a male child. If she is carrying a female child, she will have to abort. Krishna's and Gudiya's responses to the death of the former’s father; their refusal to knuckle under to the Singhs; their decision to fight for their survival against impossible odds and to stand by each other forms the crux of the book

The biggest problem with Bubble wrap is that it is far too predictable. Many will relate this book to the serial  Balika Vadhu but frankly that is it's least problems. Apart from the two main protagonists, none of the characters are particularly developed well. There is flatness in writing and at times, too bland and hardly creates any pulsating moment. Everything including the set-up, the running away, the stopping, the chase - happen in slow frames which as a reader hardly gives you anything to relate with these characters situation. All men are bad in this world but what forces their evil intentions is never explained to us.

It is not that writing is bad, far from it but the construction of the premise leaves you dazzled. The diary pages written by Krishna stuck out like sore thumb because it never flows genuinely with the main story. These flashbacks stand and eventually fall apart alone and as a narrative device do not add to anything to make us understand the tribulations of Krishna. The climax is shocking but that's probably the only intention because the details are never explained nor the situation fully sold to the readers.

I am going with 2/5 for Kalyani Rao's 'Bubble Wrap'. Even if you revel in the familiar stories and set up, it is difficult to like this one. One can just hope that the sincerity of the writing translates into something better from the writer in the next book.

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