Rating: 2.5 / 5
Durjoy Datta’s eighth solo novel, The Boy Who Loved, part one of the two-part series, is a dark love story which makes you feel concerned about the protagonist, Raghu, but at the same time, it is not convincing enough to make you empathise for him. Let us dive into a detailed review of the book.
Story [Without Spoilers]
The Boy Who Loved is the story of a young 16-year-old Bengali Hindu, Raghu Ganguly, who comes from a family with each member having quite opposite opinions about each topic. He has changed his school because he is still unable to get over the death of his best friend, Sami, who drowned in the swimming pool in front of Raghu didn’t help him. And Raghu now always finds ways to die.
In his new school, he tries to avoid everyone and live in solitude but it doesn’t last for long as he finds a girl, Brahmi Sharma, who is quite like him. They both realise they are made for each other and start to date.
Parallel to their story there is another story of his brother, Anirban, who falls in love with a Muslim girl, Zubeida Quaze and he wants to marry her. But Raghu’s parents being anti-Muslim are against Anirban’s marriage.
What happens to Raghu? Does he live or commit suicide? What happens to Brahmi? Do Anirban and Zubeida marry? If yes, then do their parents welcome this decision? By the end of the novel, you get answers to these questions.
We follow the story of The Boy Who Loved with Raghu’s diary, so it is from Raghu’s point of view. The story is simple and easy to understand. The story is set in the year 1999-2000, so there are some references to the developments that took place between India and Pakistan, and Hindus and Muslims, which pushes the story further.
There are many characters in the novel, let us talk about them one by one:
- Raghu Ganguly, other than being the protagonist he apparently is great at studies and wishes to go the IIT. Like I earlier mentioned, he is suicidal and doesn’t really seek help because he feels that is the only way out.
- Brahmi Sharma is the girl who steals Raghu’s heart and gives him a reason to live. But the problem is her life is the one that’s all sorted. She gets beaten at home and is planning to run away. But no matter what is going in her personal life she is jolly all the while.
- Anirban Ganguly, Raghu’s brother, is an IItian and is working for a private firm in Bangalore. He always takes a stand against his parents when they criticise Muslims for their activities.
- Baba. Raghu’s father is a strong man and is completely against Muslims(we learn the reason behind it as the story continues).
- Maa. Raghu’s mother mostly takes her husband’s side. She looks like a white character in the beginning but has got a lot of shades to her character as the story progresses.
- Zubeida Quaze is a Muslim woman whom Anirban first met in IIT and they later fell in love. Her parents are also against her marriage into a Hindu family.
What I liked…
There is not much that I liked about the story but I certainly enjoyed these aspects of the novel:
- Title. Like I said the story is told from Raghu’s point of view and very early on into the novel we realize that it really stands true for him. He literally loves everyone- Maa, Baba, Dada (Anirban), Brahmi. This was an interesting thing to know!
- Characters. You can feel love for the characters who are shown in pain and hate for those who are the evil doers. Characters are really the best part of the book. There are many shades of each character that unveil slowly through the novel.
What I didn’t like…
- Diary. In the novel, we follow the story through Raghu’s journal, but there is not a single moment when it feels as if there was a need for that. The story could have been easily told in the first person narrative.
- Editing. I could spot certain grammatical mistakes and some factual errors all throughout the book which made a bad impression on me.
- Sami. There were only a few instances when Sami’s name was mentioned when in a way it was because of him this story was brought to life. He wasn’t given much importance.
- We bunked the last period and went to the planetarium. The universe witnessed our first date.
- The only thing you cannot plan in life is when and whom to fall in love with…
- They were not really my friends. They just filled the hours in my day.
It is a novel with more flaws than strengths. If you want to read The Boy Who Loved, read it at your own risk.