The name Shobhaa De on the book cover was what caught my attention. I love her style of writing: crisp, witty and truly revealing. But this book was a disappointment because she did not manage to do what she set out for. An attempt at writing about teenagers falls flat mainly because the teenagers do not talk their age and more likely seem like teenage version “Friends” series.
The Plot: The story revolves around 14 year old Sandhya, and takes us all through her daily life. She has an annoying kid sister who is always ready to carry tales of her older siblings, a bossy older brother who is forever sermonizing her to get off the phone, and loving but strict parents who lay down way too many rules. Its a typical Indian family but that’s where the idea goes wrong. The way the children behave is not how kids behave at homes. It seems to have been inspired by the western soaps.
Sandhya has a massive crush on Akshay, the handsome cricket captain of the school next door. And is trying her best to get his attention. She is engrossed and always in conversation with her best friend Asavari for the school social. And amidst all this Sandhya has to decide whether to reveal something she has been hiding from everyone-a secret that will change her life forever. But truthfully, Shobhaa De could have done better here in writing up a secret. The hype and build up from the start makes you think what could a teenager probably hide that can devastate her.
Yet there are a few moments that ‘S’s Secret’ draws you into a teenager’s whirlwind world of emotions. The familiar heartbreaks and joys of growing up – the endless bickering with siblings, the eternal urge to rebel against rules, the sweetness of friendship, the yearning for peer approval, and above all, the encompassing warmth of family love. These moments will make you smile with indulgence and annoyance.
This is Shobhaa Dé’s first book for teens and has all the exuberance that we associate with her writing. But it falls short of expectations when compared to real life. Her books are known to be hard hitting reflections of life, but here it seems a cheap imitation of some disney soap for teenagers.