Release date: 30 September 2014.
Published by Rupa publications
Goodreads rating: 3.11/5
A note on author:Chetan Bhagat is an Indian author, columnist( Times of India & Dainik Bhaskar), screen writer, television personality and motivational speaker, known for his English language dramedy novels about young urban middle class Indians.
Goodreads summary: HALF GIRLFRIEND. Once upon a time, there was a Bihari boy called Madhav. He fell in love with a girl from Delhi called Riya. Madhav didn’t speak English well. Riya did. Madhav wanted a relationship. Riya didn’t. Riya just wanted friendship. Madhav didn’t. Riya suggested a compromise. She agreed to be his half girlfriend. From the author of the blockbuster novels Five Point Someone, One Night @ the Call Center, The 3 Mistakes of My Life, 2 States and Revolution 2020 comes a simple and beautiful love story that will touch your heart and inspire you to chase your dreams.
It is kind of an accident that I picked up this novel. I never intended to buy a novel in the first place. However I ended up buying this novel from the book fest that was going on in my town. I was probably in 11th grade when I read this novel. Back then I wasn’t even interested to read books.
Why you should read this novel:
Characters: This is a bit interesting part though. The characters in the novel are a bit very much stereotypical. Like there is boy with weird bojhpuri accent and a beautiful girl who speaks English fluently. And then there it goes, a typical romantic love story. But I think there is more to this than just the superficial layers everybody is interested in. Madhav Jha, he is the male lead in the story. He is portrayed as a village guy who is not very deft when it comes to talking in English and that has become a nightmare for that poor soul. He wanted to get into the famous “Stephen’s college” in Delhi, but he couldn’t only because of his bad English, which is not at all fare according to me. Later he somehow gets into the college in sports quota. He is a good basketball player which helped him score a seat in this prestigious college.
Just look at the scenario as it is. He struggled his way through the hundreds of so called “swaggy people” . This is the thing I liked in this novel very much. The author clearly had put his effort to emphasis on this concept even though it is stereotypical. He just wanted to show the world how difficult is the life of a typical Bihari. On the other side Riya Somani is a swaggy Delhi girl, who is from a very rich family and can fluently communicate in English. She is the typical Delhi girl, who is all about fashion, money and a little bit of attitude. These two characters represent two different extreme parts of the Indian community. In my view it is not just another typical romantic love story between a poor guy and rich gal. It is a story which shows the paradigm shift from one part of the community to the other and how differently people perceive things.
Setting: The whole story takes place in three different places. One in Delhi where their love story begins, and one in Bihar where the boy’s mom ( Rani Sahiba) works as the head of a government school.
The second part is all about boy recovering from the eternal wound made by his beloved Riya. Yet, he had this feeling that they would get back together somehow. The most important point is the boy never lost the hope whatsoever happened and he didn’t care to believe that Riya is dead. He still believed that she might be alive somewhere.
Meanwhile, the boy sets out to help his mom in maintaining the school and managing things. The Bihari government schools are a real nightmare to the children. And that was rightly shown in the book. The schools didn’t have toilets and proper staff. So in this part the author concentrated more on social cause than the main storyline. He does reconcile with his girlfriend after she divorced her husband. But that never lasted long. She escaped to New York faking that she has lung cancer.
This part ends when Madhav successfully brings Bill Gates to his town and conveys about all the problems those poor children had to face. Bill Gates, moved by Madhav’s speech, donates some amount as a fund to the school. The ending of the meeting pretty much looked like the ending of the book. With Riya gone and a dreadful truth is revealed which is later proved to be wrong. Now Riya has lung cancer. A typical twist in the story, yet it added so much momentum to the story line and it is because of that very twist readers could turn their pages.
The third one, in New York. I feel the third part is pretty interesting. The guy comes to New York in search of the girl and he takes up a small job there and stays in his friends house. Note: His friend is married. The last part of the story which happens in New York is fast paced and has perfect blend of emotions. Well, I started crying. He searches every where for her. That is pretty usual and this part of the story was pretty bragging and boring. But another twist comes in, the boy remembers something Riya told very long back. Her dream was to sing in a small bar and enjoy the evening. As it turns out he comes across this jazz music bar somewhere in new York. Luckily when he rushed through the bar door he saw Riya and there ends the story.
Why you don’t want to read this book:
Storyline: Yes! the story line is very boring and very slow paced. You will definitely feel sick at the end of the story. There isn’t much to tell about the story. If you see the main theme of the story as a love story then it is definitely not one of the best available in the market. But I did feel this story has something more than what has been written. Even though it is a typical Indian love story it was listed in the Ney York’s bestselling Indian novel in the Indian history. By the way I was very shocked to read that. All I can tell is you can give it a go and see for yourself.
// One thing I hated was the Chetan bhagat’s cameo. I think he is a little self obsessive over here. He meets Madhav in a hotel, which was unsual in way? and then Madhav leaves his journals somehow and atlast Chetan Bhgat ends up reading them. //
Guys, I really don’t know what to tell. This seems good book in a way and in a lot of ways it is boring. So, if you really want to start your evening with a good book which rehashes all the memorable moments of your life, this is not the one you are looking for.
This is a must read book according to me, not just because this is my first novel. As I told you there is more to the story than just a boy, girl and a college. I have read few reviews on this book, which I should say, they are pretty bad. The critics didn’t think this is a book which is worth reading. But people, we can never judge a book by its cover. I wouldn’t suggest you to buy this book. However, if you really want to know why this book has got so many ramifications around it, borrow it from a library and give it go while you have your fav cup of coffee!!
This is the link to the authors website Chetan bhagat. If you are really interested in this authors work, you can easily browse in this website and there is a new release coming up “One Indian Girl” . Which I think is pretty awesome. You can pre order the book here: ONE INDIAN GIRL. Most of his books were kept in sale this month, so if you are interested to buy you can go ahead and buy from amazon.