Growing-up Fiction Books

Doubtful daughter: Review of Revathi Suresh’s ‘In Now & Then’

You’re telling me I should have made an appointment to see you?” I winced at this line in Revathi Suresh’s second novel, In Now and Then. It’s exactly what I used to say to my busy parents when I wanted to push buttons. Speaking of which, Suresh’s protagonist Kavya, whom we first met in Jobless Clueless Reckless, could give anyone lessons in pushing buttons.

If her life seemed to be spinning out of control in the first book, here she stumbles from one crisis to another. At first glance, Kavya is not a very likeable character. She’s moody, prickly and often downright annoying, but Suresh keeps one interested in her. Why is she the way she is? What makes her tick?

The narration is in the first person, but it’s almost as if Kavya is showing the reader only what she wants and hiding a lot more. You want to get into Kavya’s head and understand what’s going on in there.

Broken families and relationships, sex and sexual identities (written in a matter-of-fact and non-judgemental manner), modes of education, sorrow... everything here is not just complicated but also gets acrimonious and chaotic at times.

From home-schooling to formal schooling, moving from India to the Netherlands, from living with an eccentric mother to being with a strict father, Kavya’s life has been turned upside down. The passage where Kavya taunts her father had me muttering, ‘Don’t, you idiot! Do you want a whack?’

When the book opens, Kavya has moved to India to be with her mother but is consumed by doubts. Does her mother want her around? She’s also trying to figure out where she stands with the two boys in her life: Kiran and Vinay. And then there’s Lara. Why is Lara suddenly so keen on her? They weren’t all that pally before.

This is not to suggest that the book is all gloom and doom. There is a lot of humour, both subtle and laugh-out-loud. Suresh excels at capturing the confusion and helplessness of youngsters. But even if you are a much older person, you relate to what’s going on.

In Now & Then; Revathi Suresh, 1inchmargin, ₹199 (Kindle price)

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 2:59:27 PM |

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