´Finding Juliet´ is written by an Indian male author, who goes by the pseudonym ´ Toffee Idiot´. The book is about a young man´s earnest quest to find true love. The pages are generously filled galore with the protagonist Arjun´s umpteen infatuations, crushes, heartaches, disappointments, embarrassing mistakes, wise learnings and a final hard truthful realisation about love.
After more than a couple of goof-ups in the matters of the heart (heartbreaks) as well as the mind (a suicide attempt), Arjun shifts from Hyderabad to Bangalore. This proves to be a major turning point in Arjun´s life when he meets the uber cool dude and chic magnet, Krish. After Krish´s persuasion, Arjun goes through a whole gamut or 360 degree transformation in himself. Needless to add, Arjun goes from ´geeky´ to ´hot and happening´ in no time.
The book definitely has its own strengths and weaknesses. Let´s talk about them!
What appealed to me most about the book was the honesty in the narrative! The story is a modern take on relationships which have become casual and frivolous in nature. Yet, we see the protagonist subconsciously longing for genuine love as he hops from relationship to another. Despite the world evolving and changing, some things are constant like true love.
Arjun is a regular Joe which makes him highly relatable. His character is flawed yet endearing. As he keep committing one mistake after the other, what makes him loveable is that he learns and gains a little piece of wisdom after every mishap. Like the death of his parents arouses in him a deep guilty realisation that he took them for granted when they were alive. He made several excuses to visit them in order to accommodate his several clandestine affairs.
One striking quality about Arjun is that he is brutally passionate and ambitious. He ardently wants to be seen as cool, popular, good-looking, a ladies´man, an intellectual, a creative artist or lyricist and so on. He wants it all! The good life, a highly successful professional career, a creative outlet for his talents, an incessant need for fame, the company of beautiful women and last but not the least, finding true love…aka Juliet.
The book is an easy, breezy read with liberal doses of Indian desi masala to spice it up. Another strength of the book is that it will highly appeal to its target audience which is a certain specific age-group ranging from 18-35 yr olds at the maximum. They will simply lap it up and relate to it. I am very sure it will strike a chord with many young single Indian men in particular - the crushes, heartbreaks, the incessant pressure to look hot, sexy and be hugely successful, the yearning for true love and companionship and more. It will also appeal to young Indian women who want to understand the India male mind or Romeo´s perspective.
In terms of its weakness, the book is very predictable and gets pretty repetitive with the introduction of every female character. You know exactly what to expect, the pattern that follows and the eventual outcome of the relationship. After many opportunists and gold-diggers along the way, guessing who Juliet is not exactly rocket science.
Another weakness is that the book might fall short in impressing a more mature individual or age group. Like say philosophical excerpts of wisdom about the female mind, love and life was amusingly amateurish.
Also, it gets tad too stereotypical filmy in terms of the character portrayal, description, references to various movie songs and lyrics. The overall inspiration behind the book seems to be Bollywood driven. So in that context, the book´s appeal is specifically limited to a certain age-group and culture.
Another minor grouse is that there are several portions in the book that offended me as woman and made me cringe. Let´s say, like rating and ranking women purely by their physical attributes totally turned me off. But again to the book´s rescue, I am aware that these things happen in real life, even in the most prestigious institutes like the Stanford University. Repetitive references of the uncomfortable and annoying ´male gaze´ was another put-off. But again, this is common among Indian men, in particular who love to ogle and stare overtly or covertly. A trait I hope Indian men will learn and realise that staring is rude and not proper etiquette.
Throughout the book´s journey, we see that Arjun is trying to understand women, life and most importantly himself. In the final chapter, we see maturity finally dawning upon Arjun as he unites with his Juliet in the end.
Overall, the book delivers on its promise. It packs in quite a punch for its target audience and will appeal to them. As for me, I enjoyed the light fluffy read mainly for its honesty and earnestness, both in its intent and efforts to entertain and inspire through the characters.