Book Review

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Editors: Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen,
Arti Jain & Rajat Poddar
The Chicken Soup has long been a series that plumps and stirs your emotions into an experience of life seems just a little bit fuller. College years are an exuberant period where one can explore the experiences of adulthood and this book captures many of the different emotions that this transformation entails. From finding real friends in this new and confounding world to adjusting to hostel life, these stories are so diverse that there will be at least one story which might make you jump up in excitement proclaim, “But this is the story of MY college life!”
Stories like ‘But I’m a Girl!’, ‘Music and Lyrics’ and ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ are inspirational as well as immediately relatable. Others like ‘Just a Good Sort?’ and ‘Please Mr Postman’ take you back to your hostel days, while ‘College Reunion’ and ‘College Coursework’ would surely make you achingly nostalgic about your own college life.
Although the stories are relatable, the enthusiasm may drown a little because, unlike other books from the Chicken Soup series, this one does not have stories by celebrity writers. Moreover, there are some stories without any inspiring or humorous elements. This, at times, can put you off. Thankfully there are more than enough stories that emerge like jewels between the pages.

Author: Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni
The author is better known for her fiction dealing with romance, relationships, and strong heroines as in The Mistress of Spices, Arranged Marriage, The Vine of Desire, Palace of Illusions (which was a fascinating retelling of the Mahabharata from Draupadi’s perspective), and recently, One Amazing Thing. This is her only young adult fantasy series, Brotherhood of the Conch, and it is set entirely in India. It consists of the Conch Bearer, the Mirror of Fire and Dreaming and Shadowland. She wrote these books for her two sons who had been clamouring for some time that she write for them as well. Other motivating factors for venturing into young adult fiction were the post-9/11 events in America, especially the increased hostility towards immigrants. These incidents threw up questions about identity, the problems of valid documentation, and cultural differences. To discuss these issues and create heroic role models for the readers, Divakarurni uses a combination of mythology and fantasy in the Conch series.
Shadowland, the third book in the trilogy, deals with the problems of being an illegal immigrant or a person without paper or rights. Anand and Nisha, who are fifteen, are off on their third adventure to restore the Conch to its rightful place. In order to do to so, they have to leave their beautiful Silver Valley and venture into the forbidding Shadowland, where they stumble across a curious society. A place where the magicians are locked up and the scientists are supreme, but there are also a bunch of youngsters who are kept imprisoned, to be used as labour, as and when required. Armies and police maintain order in this dreary land. It is a disturbing book because of the issues that it raises, but the author maintains her reputation as a good storyteller.
SHEBA KARIM’S Skunk Girl explores the growing up pangs of a sixteen-year-old at high school living in the shadow of a brighter, older sister.

Chinese Whiskers is a coming-of-age tale about the friendship of two cats, Soyabean and Tofu, who live in the “New China”. Set in Beijing around the time of the Olympics, it subtly comments on the new consumerist economic order.


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