Book Title: The Sunshine Town
Author Maniissh Aroraa
Total Number of Pages: 194
Publisher: Peacock Books
Publication Date: 20th Dec 2017
Format: Kindle eBook
Genre: Fiction / Young Adult
I don’t get to read YA fiction too often. The last time I picked up a young adult book was in the early 2017. ‘The Sunshine Town’ will be the first YA fiction that I am reading this year. Creating a medley of teenage romance, career issues and self esteem issues that people of this particular age group has to face, Maniish Aroraa has crafted a story explaining the thought processing of a teenage mind and the emotional upheavals the person has to go through.
For a debut novel, Maniissh Aroraa has done a decent job in piquing the interests of the teenage readers group. Everyone loves to read a book where they can put themselves in the character’s shoe and ‘Sunshine Town’, I believe, is one such book which teenagers would find relatable.
The central character in this book is a teenage boy named Shlok and the author has narrated the story from his point of view. Set in Varanasi, in North India, Shlok represents a teenage boy living in an Indian middle class family. As it happens in almost all the middle class families across India, Shlok’s parents have a dream that he will become a doctor one day. Doctor and engineers always gets the first preference when it comes down to career choices in India. Parents think that if you can’t become either of the two, you’ll probably come down to begging on the streets. I know, I had to face the same situation and I remember being so depressed that my parents wouldn’t understand and respect my choices.
Like in the life of every teenager, crushes, teenage romance and the first taste of heartbreak are pretty common. So is the case with our boy, Shlok. He fancies Natasha who also happens to be his next door neighbour. The only problem is Shlok is not one of the “cool guys”. It is not until that Natasha gets into a minor accident in the park and Shlok rushes to her rescue that she takes notice of him.
Another thing about Shlok is he isn’t one of those “raising his hand first” whenever a teacher asks a question type of guy nor is he completely miserable at his studies. He lies somewhere between the average students. While he doesn’t get “excellent” as a remark from his teachers, he sure his intelligent. The only thing he lacks is the motivation to study until his final exams knocks at the door. It is then that he is fuelled with this sudden urge to do well in the exams and wants to shush up the people who complained about him being a lazy person.
On the other side, Shlok and Natasha’s bonding becomes more and more strong with each passing day. But, it’s not completely a bed of roses. Both of them struggles a lot through the period of time.
Life doesn’t stop throwing curbeballs at Shlok. As soon as he thinks that he has got it all together, another incident would stir up the negative thoughts in his head. “Am I good enough?” is the question that we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. Often times we feel dejected when the negative thoughts overpowers the positive vibes and it is in this age, that people are most prone to negativity. Life is unpredictable. Not always does it go as we planned. There will be failures and at times, we have to face it in the aspects of our lives which we thought of as a career choice or something we thought we were good at.
Even though there are two protagonists (male and female) in the story, Shlok gets most of the screen time. Since, ‘Sunshine Town’ is about Shlok’s journey, the storyline doesn’t waver from keeping him as the centre of attention. This helped me to connect with him really well because with each page his character was developing and he was turning into this matured young man. While I get it that the book is about Shlok’s journey of life, I would have loved to see more of Natasha’s character. Since she was introduced into the plotline, I would have loved to see the different shades of her character too. Still, I am quite happy with Shlok being main focus of the story.
Coming to the narration, it’s very simple and easy to understand. The sentences are structured well unlike some of the debut novels which I have read where the sentences aren’t able to convey the thoughts properly. Another thing is the editing. Sunshine Town was really a well-written book with almost no grammatical mistakes (which is an uncommon thing). The language used is lucid so it’s apt for the teenagers and it doesn’t come across as amateurish either, if I talk of readers like me.
Speaking of the cover, I felt that it’s good in its own way and also goes well with the title. But, if I compare it with the plotline, I would say I couldn’t get a glimpse of the plot in the cover. I would have loved if the cover connected with the plot or the character in some way.
The concept of the story isn’t exactly unique or something which you have never read before but the way the characters come through the page where you can sympathize with them and really feel them, that’s always a good way of writing a story. Readers want to connect with the characters and the plot and I definitely did. The author has managed to capture all the details of a teenager’s life and thus one can definitely picture themselves in their shoes.
Being a teenager is never easy. Living through the teenage phase and being burdened with too many responsibilities all of a sudden can affect a person both mentally and emotionally. Sometimes, teenagers just want to be told that it’s okay to feel all that pressure and that they are not alone in this. Self-doubt can be really nasty. No person can be good at everything. There will be setbacks in life and things will go unplanned but one must know that if something doesn’t work out the way they thought it would, there are always other options, other choices to weigh upon.
‘Sunshine Town’ makes for an inspirational read all the while exploring the details of a teenager’s life. Recommended to teenagers out there.
POESY IN CHRYSALIS RATING : ⭐⭐⭐.8/ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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