Am not a big fan of romances or love stories, but yes, I do like my chick lits. So when this book, Heart Quake by Ishita Deshmukh found its way into my review list, I was skeptic about the way it would turn out and the hours I’d have to tolerate it. But to my surprise, I was mistaken. One of my good reads, if not the finest, of this year, the author has managed to pen a story that neither tortured me nor made me curse my decision of taking up professional book reviewing for the nth time!

Sonal, a nurse has arrived in the city of Bhuj, just after the shocks that left the city to shambles in the year 2001. Assisting a team of doctors in a camp named Shanti Vaas, Sonal’s main motive to come to Bhuj is to look for her best friend Smita, who lived there with her family. Taking out whatever time she could between treating patients, Sonal searches for Smita in the camps across the city in the hope of finding her. While Sonal starts looking for Smita across several camps in the city, she comes face to face with her past, her ex-boyfriend Tejas, who is in Bhuj to pick the most challenging medical cases for his soon to be launched multi-specialty hospital. With Sonal standing on the staircase to the next phase of her life with her fiance and Tejas pursuing her adamantly, she is caught between her mind and heart and her aim to find Smita.
Amidst all this, unknown to any of them, there are uncouth agents at work in this disastrous times hell-bent on filling their pockets at the cost of barely surviving human lives.
Can Sonal find her best friend in this rubble? Will Sonal and Tejas resolve their issues to come together once again? Or will Sonal move on without him to the next level in her life? Will the unscrupulous people be caught before they wreak more havoc in the already devastated city?

Written in simple English, there was an attraction that I could feel while reading this book which I usually don’t feel with any Indian authors of this genre. Lucid, the language never felt out of place, if you know what I mean! (the attempts by Indian authors to put forth a book written in English language trying hard to compete with their foreign counterparts whose first language is English) There was a balance between the words, no looking up for meanings of some uncommon synonym of a simple word, yet it wasn’t mediocre.
When I first heard the name of this book, I thought that what I was going to read would be a cliche romantic story. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The story isn’t romantic at all, maybe a few scenes, but no more. It is a complete package of mirch-masala, the potpourri of emotions, love, hate, crime, suspense, hope, despair, a drama with the backdrop of a natural disaster. In terms of characterization, neither the protagonists nor the supporting characters had enough depth. Sonal’s character has been touched upon a little, but the rest are quite shallow. Although the blurb mentions Sonal and Tejas to be the protagonists, it’s only Sonal who takes the center stage. The pace of the story is good, it doesn’t linger on unnecessarily and comes to the point easily. A few nameless conversations led to confusion, making me re-read the lines. Also, Sonal’s and Tejas’s past story is given in snippets, which in fact is very little given the fact that it is actually that major part, on which the whole story is based.
Set against the background of a calamity claiming thousands of human and animal life alike, one expects the emotion of empathy to be present, instead, the feeling of sympathy is more prominent. The rawness of human nature is exposed. The ability to derive benefit from the worst of human situations is reserved for humans only. Nothing grabs human attention more than the tragedy of the loss of human life.
All said, this story could be made into a typical Bollywood film, albeit some modifications are required. Frankly, despite its flaws, there was nothing in this book that I didn’t like, and that left me wondering if my taste has changed, and I have finally started liking Indian authors. Alas no, but I have come across an author whose future works (if the genre is kept the same) I’d be looking forward to when I would want to read some fast-paced drama.

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