Book Review, Historical Fiction

Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi Vohra

Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in Bombay. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned.

But life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.

Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gangrape case in New Delhi, that evokes painful memories of his own past trauma

This story has heart and truth. There are problems around this world some do not want to acknowledge or cannot accept. The reason for this, it is not their problem. I love how the author kept true to what was happening around that time and not paint a different picture. The pacing was decent for this type of story and could hold my interest.

We see this story through the eyes of Raghav. It starts out with him being a seven-year-old up to a young man. Life is hard in general, but for a child, it is harder. As a young child, Raghav went through things he should have never had to do. He lost the one parent who could have steered him in a different direction. The other was a tragedy that haunted him for most of his young life. As a reader, you can feel the emotions Raghav expresses throughout this story and this made him a great character.

The rest of the characters are just as well written. The emotions from the father and sister read through just as much as Raghav. Each character holds their part well in moving the story forward. The different lives each character holds, shows the way life was in the area they represented.

The story is told in set in Bombay in 1992 and in Mumbai in 2012. For this type of story, the setting was told well enough to get the jist of what the world is like around Raghav. I do like the fact the author did not “pretty” it up. The setting felt real as it should. I wish the author could have given us more, but that is me and it could have slowed the story too much.

This story was a great read. It helps open one’s eyes to see there are problems within this world outside of one’s bubble. Sometimes one takes for granted for what others do not have. I would recommend this book if you like coming-of-age fiction, true events, urban drama, and fiction.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion.

I give this book a 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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