Beyond Secrets by Alka Dimri Saklani is such a heart rendering book I haven’t read from quite some time. I read the entire book with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat. Somewhere deep down, the story of the book connects. I felt devastated after reading it.
We all have secrets which we lock deep into our heart. And then there are secrets which are locked away from our knowledge because knowing them will do no good to us. The story of the book was based on such a theme.
The story has two protagonist. Noel who was a counsellor. He was a happy go lucky sort of guy, but rebellious at the same time. Nidhi, another lead character was disturbed, fighting demons of past. Both were unaware of secrets hidden from them. Their lives were devastated when those ugly truth surfaced.
The book was fast paced. You will hardly get time to breathe when characters enveloped in the storm of emotions. There were a few light moments in between the story, but mostly it was an intense read
True to its title there were many secrets in the story which the author reveals at the regular interval. This provided the story many twist and turn and also a sense of mystery. The story was fairly unpredictable till the end. It was difficult to guess what will happen next. So equally difficult to put it down.
Emotional Roller Coaster
The author seems to be a very compassionate person. Every type of emotion – disturbing, turmoil, soothing, love, hatred etc. not only find there way into the book, but characters emoted so well that they simply touched the heart and nerves at the right places. I could actually feel the pain of the characters as if they were mine.
Sensitive issues handled effectively
The story deals with many sensitive issues like child abandonment, adoption, child trafficking, religious differences and communal riots. How these issues leaves impact on people beyond repair. Life goes on but scars refuse to fade with time and pain refuse to ease with time. And I must say that author dealt with all these issues in the best possible and positive manner.
Children are left in orphanages by parents for myraid of reason. The feeling of rejection and desertation by their loved ones is very painfully and often children never manage to overcome them which reflects in their adult life as well. The author has portrayed this entire scenario in the most heart wrenching manner.
But the author has shown parents side as well. Parents are never at peace when they desert, abandon a part of them- their baby. Life is never easy for them as well. But seldom children manage to decipher their pain.
Then there are religious issues and communal riots. Something I never understood. No child is born Hindu or Muslim. Then why religious belief becomes the most important identity and people simply forget they are human being first and then everything else.
Through her book, the author Alka, in her own small but brilliant way, has shown religious harmony is the key to social development of the family at the small scale and society at the larger scale.
Romance in this novel is so unique and different from what we normally read these days. Romance between Noel and Nidhi was similar to the movies of 1960s and 70s. They both hold back their emotions. Their feeling to each other which further added melancholy to the novel. It was nice and refreshing to read.
The story was written in the most simple language. It was gripping from the beginning itself. There was a sense of suspense in the opening chapter which raised the curiosity. It compels you to read further and the author has maintained this sense of suspense throughout the novel.
The novel was written in the first person. I felt the author could have experimented with different narrative style as there were three voices in the book. All of them written in the first person doesn’t change the tone of the book.
Something that didn’t connect
Sometimes the story was a little unrealistic. Specially the part were Neol was on the self imposed exile. He was so drowned in his own grief that he was not capable enough to earn a living and was begging to fill his belly. But then people do strange things when they hit a rough patch.
Also Neol was shown volunteering as a counselor for the children in an orphanage. But the author didn’t show any real session in the story. I wished if there was something written about it. Then it would have felt realistic.
Shortcoming are entirely my personal opinion and could differ from reader to reader.
Overall the book is an emotional roller coaster ride. There are plethora of emotions which will leave you thoughtful and devastated.
My takeaway from this novel is instead of holding back information of adoption and abandonment from the child, parents should be the one to reveal the truth at the right time. Instead of hoping the child will never come to know, so why bother. It is always better to tell. I think many will agree with my thought.