23-year-old author Savi Sharma’s second book is about writing new beginnings in life, about starting over – just like her writing, which has grown in the short span of time since her debut novel ‘Everyone Has a Story’ was released in 2015.
“I want to live. I want to be everything and nothing, all at once.”
You may not be familiar with Savi Sharma just yet but she’s India’s first female writer of mass-market fiction to sell a startling 1,00,000 copies – all self-published. The above lines are from her second novel ‘This Is Not Your Story’.
Aspiring to propagate the Indian romance genre, Savi’s second novel is a lot like her first, but the growth is evident. In‘This Is Not Your Story’, she brings forth three characters – Shaurya, Anubhav and Miraya – along with their broken dreams and devastated hearts, who are thrown together by fate until their lives take a turn for the better.
A lot like Savi herself, the protagonist Shaurya, is a dreamer who wants to be a film-maker. Instead, he is caught up in the grind of an unwanted CA course. Shaurya is a mirror for a percentage of the youth who are too afraid to reach for their dreams in the face of familial pressure and obligations. In contrast, Anubhav, a young wannabe entrepreneur, has everything working out for him. From supportive parents to achievements in all that he wants from life, he has it all, till life decides to spin the dice and take it all away. Miraya, Shaurya’s next-door neighbour’s cousin, is the epitome of a modern woman, who is in love with her work and passionate about life but has a history of being scarred by love.
Savi plays with classic conflict and resolution themes in her character-building, layering them and lending them a depth of understanding. They are people you can relate to, instantly – there is a bit of Shaurya in all of us and a bit of Miraya in all of us. The plot is simple enough. It’s nothing ground-breaking but the way that the characters’ stories intertwine is a new element in this genre. There are no twists and turns, no earth-shattering realisations but, instead, a slow and steady journey through life and courage. Savi communicates that stories matter, however unimportant you may think they are – that all things ordinary have something extraordinary in them, if you just look closely enough.
The book is compact and the plot fast-paced and gripping. You’d want to finish the book in one go. Savi’s improvement as a storyteller is evident in the way she weaves the first chapter through to the last, and in the way emotions are put forward – boldly, being true to what the characters feel without bringing any judgements to their emotions. A truly Indian novel, the context is easy to understand, the scenario relatable and the language very lucid. This is a book that everyone can read without feeling anything other than comradery. As someone who says her favourite director is Imtiaz Ali, you can see traces of inspiration in Savi’s book. It is very evident that she takes parts of herself to build her characters – making them so relatable that you can start rooting for them.
There is nothing new in this story – boy meets girl, falls in love, has a painful backstory, but having the girl beside him he can now face all his fears. All four characters have the same backstory. But the book still takes a step further in the romance genre that Savi wants to target. It reflects on how much more there is to life than just colleges and careers – on how complex and layered our stories are. Stemming from her very keen observations on life, Savi has a knack for building characters. ‘This Is Not Your Story’ very successfully builds on experiences and consequences, on how the story that defines you – the story that you have allowed to steer your life, the story that makes you so sad that you forget to smile anymore – is not your story. There is always a second chance waiting for you. A chance to start over. Take a pen and write a new story again.
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