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Literary Review
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Literary Review

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First Impressions


For One More Day; Mitch Albom; Sphere; £12.99

MITCH ALBOM has a way with stories. On the surface, they are simple ones that just about anybody can read and understand. But then that's what Albom's purpose in writing these books is. Remember Tuesday's with Morrie. Deceptively simple, it told the story of an old professor on his deathbed. In that small, but hugely effective, book was a message for everyone.

Likewise in One More Day, Albom stumbles onto the "ghost" in the life of Charles Benetto, a former baseball player. Chick, as he was known, had gone from an aspiring world-class player to being on the death wish bandwagon. His wife had given up on him, his daughter did not want to see him — in general, nobody wanted him. That's when Benetto tries to commit suicide but destiny has other plans. This is the story of Chick who finds that he has always tried to distance himself from his mother. And then his mother visits Chick.

In an astonishing revelation, he tells of how he realises how he has wronged his mother over the years. You may not believe in ghosts and you may not believe in destiny but the message of this story is powerful and evocative. Read it and find out why.

* * *

The End of Innocence; Moni Mohsin; Penguin; Rs. 395.

NINE-YEAR-OLD Laila is eager to hurtle into the adult world around her. But for this she needs a friend and confidant. Laila, who lives in the more peaceful environs of West Pakistan, finds that friend in young Rani, her servant's daughter.

Laila and Rani are "best friends" for many years till Rani, already a teenager, falls in love. Only Laila does not know or understand the implications. But she is so keen to retain her friendship with Rani that she is willing to do anything. When Rani confides her feelings, Laila is only too happy to play the part of a "grown-up friend".

However, things turn messy and Rani becomes pregnant. The artless Laila, trying to help her friend, finds herself at sea in a world that she does not comprehend. This unleashes a trail of events that leads to a major catastrophe, which finally leads Laila into the world of grown-ups.

Moni Mohsin writes with candour about a society in Pakistan that few may have heard of or imagined.

* * *

Trust Me; Rajashree; Rupa; Rs. 95.

THANKS to Bridgette Jones, chick-lit has finally come of age. And so there is no real need for the Mills and Boon type of romance. But here's the rub: chick-lit, taken too far, sounds the same.

Parvati's romance with the local Lothario comes to an end when he tells her that he "enjoyed himself with her". She finds a shoulder to cry on — her boss, the affable, potbellied Mr. Bose who runs an ad film company. But Mr. Bose is not that genial after all, she discovers. After plying her with mutton biryani and vodka, he makes a pass at her telling her to forget that b... ... d who mucked her up. Parvati, the good soul from a small town in Meerut, completely loses it with Bose and refuses to show up for work. Meanwhile her "I-told-you-so" gang of friends try and bail her out of trouble while nursing their own boyfriend grievances. Finally of course Parvati manages to make it to a decent relationship but not before many cynical moments. Despite the filmi fundas this is an easy read. For all those young ones out on their own in the big bad city, this will certainly provide a sense of déjà vu.

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Literary Review

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