Blurb: Mrityunjoy Roy is a fifteen year old Bengali who has spent the last ten years of his life growing up in Shimla. While his family is completely academically oriented, he wants something more. Finally he meets Akanksha in school, who turns his world upside down with her gorgeous looks and mind boggling smile. As fate would have it, she joins his tuition, and thus begins the torrid year of puppy love, romance, heartbreak, tragedy, and self discovery.
Set among the scenic Shivalik hills of Shimla when mobile phones and internet were non-existent, this is a story of how an average young teenager comes to terms with his destiny.
About the author: Ritoban Chakrabarti is an entrepreneur who ran an internet marketing company for five years, before trying his hand at writing. His first novel, When She Smiled, a coming-of-age fiction released in 2014. He is an avid traveller, and believes in a life without boundaries.
Review: When she smiled takes the reader to the hilly beauty of Shimla narrating the story of 15 year old Mrityunjoy Roy attracted to girl named Akanksha. The scenic beauty and natural landscape Shimla matches exactly to the romantic and childhood adventurous spirit of the story. The romantic narrations and the descriptions of feelings of both antagonists and protagonists kept me attached to the book until it finishes. There is this question in my mind- what will happen next? But as destiny wins, Mrityunjoy understands the reality of life and its importance. He shifts his attraction to his studies from the memories of childhood romance. The friendship, attraction, love and heart break, studies and career growth are all described analytically that it seems that the same experience is being occurring in the real life and can be visualized by the reader too. The writing style of the author is expressive, articulate and easy. I liked the way he has described Shimla and the life of people there. However, at times, I felt my interest fading in few chapters of the story. The author needs to polish his writing to make it brusquer. But he successfully could give the message he wanted to give through his book though he could have cut down on some of the enraged paragraphs/references which I felt were pointless. The characterization is very well done but somehow I could not connect with the characters. I felt Mrityunjay was inexperienced that he felt foolish to me. However, at times I felt myself understanding with him and rooting for his good future. Akansha was confusing; she seemed to be a nice girl at first but then suddenly turned negative. Roy’s father angered me to no end to that the teacher added another layer of disgust and anger. Such teachers have no right to be near children, let alone teach anything to them. Don’t give up is what you will get from this story. I know everyone has had some moment where things just get bad and it never seems to get better. You will read about things like that in this book. You can either feel worse about it and things will go to crap. Or you can stand up and work to make things better and end up on top of the world. I like the idea, but it’s not the first book I’ve read with it. There were a few Bollywood touches throughout the book which reminded me of few movies of 1990’s, but it is normal be when reading books by authors who are hugely influenced by Bollywood from a young age, but these points did not make me lost my connection with the characters and story. I would like to conclude that all in all, it’s a fresh and enchanting love story. Old school love narrated at its best.
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