‘Life Is What You Make It’ by Preeti Shenoy is a decent read, which you can finish in one sitting. You can term this book as impressive. However, at the same time, don’t expect too much from this book. While the opening chapter of the book is both pleasing and appealing, the first half of the book, in general, is the typical college love story and does not offer anything different. A college love story seems to be a tried and tested love formula that works in modern Indian writings now days. The success of this formula can be seen in the number of college love stories churning out every year. The second half of this book, on the other hand, is well written and deals with the sensitive issues of mental health. Nevertheless, there were some loose ends in this half also, which could have been tightened.
This is the story of Ankita Sharma, who is young, good-looking, smart and aspiring. She has a number of friends and boys are falling over her one after another. Suddenly she found herself in a mental hospital coping with a mental illness called ‘bipolar disorder’. The rest of the story deals with her surviving this disease.
The back cover of the book says, “It is a deeply moving and inspiring account of growing up, of the power of faith and how determination and an indomitable spirit can overcome even what destiny throws at you.” To be frank, this is what you find lacking in the story. The protagonist of this novel fails to convey any of this. Though you get a lot of information about the mental illness, the author fails to evoke any emotional response from reader’s side.
Some of the characters have been handled very poorly. Take the example of Vaibhav, who features prominently in the beginning of the book but later on becomes irrelevant in the main storyline. We also do not know anything about him. In fact, was there any real need of including his character in the book? Was he just included to fill some more pages in the book? The story would have run smoothly well even without him. The author, on the other hand could have devoted few more pages to develop the character of Abhi, who is one of the main characters in the book and plays an important role in giving a certain direction to the main storyline. The climax also seems to be rushed up.
This is the first book of Preeti Shenoy for me. I picked up this book after hearing a lot of good things about this book. Though I didn’t get disappointed, my expectations were different. I also found a number of spelling errors in the book. There are no lines which can be termed as worth remembering.
However, keeping all these issues aside, this book is still a very good attempt to throw light on the state of mental patients. People still see mental patients as lunatics and do not understand that mental illness is also a type of health problem and people suffering from these require same sort of care and affection as normal patients require.
Read the book if you want to know more about ‘bipolar disorder’.