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Nithya Sivashankar

By Revathi Suresh
Duckbill Books, Chennai, 2013, pp. 175, Rs. 175.00


Two years ago, when there was a dearth of coming-of-age novels for Indian children, along came Tulika’s Mayil Will Not Be Quiet—like summer rain on parched earth. It gave us a glimpse into the life of a spunky pre-teen and her journey into teenagehood, and left us longing for more such absorbing and entertaining works of indigenous young adult fiction. Today, there still remains a shortage of books for adolescent Indians, but there are publishers like Duckbill who offer hope and delight to YA fans, both young and old.   Revathi Suresh’s Jobless Clueless Reckless (JCR) works because it’s funny, it’s fresh and it’s fast-paced. Revathi’s debut novel has a smashing narrator in Kavya Naresh, an insecure 15 year old trying to come to terms with her troubled mother, absent father and her brother, Dhrittiman’s name, among many other things. Kavya is a cross between Holden Caulfield and Charlie (the protagonist of The Perks of Being a Wallflower). A loner for most part, she cloaks herself in black clothes and a wry sense of humour. She faces trials and tribulations typical to adolescence—secret crushes, hypocritical friendships and turbulent parental relationships. In addition to this, she is also deprived of access to Facebook, TV and regular school (she is homeschooled by her aunt and uncle). As a result, Kavya, like your average, dramatic teenager, wants to ‘scratch (her) life out and start over’. You might expect JCR to be a bildungsroman, but unfortunately it isn’t one. There is no tangible transformation or ‘coming of age’ during the course of the book, however, Kavya does eventually come to terms with the problems plaguing her.   JCR’s opening chapter works as an effective bait to lure the reader into the book. We find Kavya reminiscing about her friend, Manisha and we discover that the latter’s mysterious disappearance has left a lacuna in the protagonist’s life. Kavya frequently has her ‘Manisha days’ during which she rummages through her cupboard hoping to find scraps of her friend and writes in her book about the things they did together. Her friends—most of whom are phonies—accuse Kavya, the ‘serial killer of Barbies’ of dreaming up a friend and subsequently killing her.   From the very first chapter, Revathi Suresh grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. She pulls you into Grand Canyon—Kavya’s pretentious ...

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