The Way Home

Kajal Kapur posted under Book Review on 2024-05-23

Shalini Mullick’s 'The Way Home' is a heartfelt journey through the lives of the three main characters —Anya, Neel, and Roy—each grappling with their own set of demons. This novel is an exploration of home and self-discovery, woven through themes of grief, self-doubt, and friendship.

The plot brings together these three vastly different characters, who under normal circumstances, would likely never cross paths, despite their origins in NCR. Anya is burdened by grief and loss, Neel struggles under the weight of his parents' high expectations, and Roy is trying to piece himself back together after a devastating heartbreak. Their serendipitous meeting at a hospital in Goa marks the beginning of a transformative friendship that becomes the cornerstone of their healing process.

The casual and authentic portrayal of the trio’s relationship is one of the highlights of the novel. Their interactions are so genuine. The easy rapport and heartfelt texts among them are reminiscent of one's meaningful connections and makes this story even more relatable. Having said that, there are repetitions and telling descriptions that forced me to be an observant of the story, rather than a participant in the trio's journey.

What most resonated with me was that the internal battles that each of these characters face, highlights the universal struggle of overcoming self-imposed barriers. Anya's character, in particular, is raw and poignant. The depiction of her grief is quite relatable. Though in the beginning, I could not connect with her, but gradually I found myself understanding her journey, especially during moments when her pent-up emotions were finally released.

The romance between Anya and Roy was predictable for me, and it did not lift up my spirits or cheer for them. It seemed too convenient for the sake of the story. Neel's resolution with his issues was also sudden and abrupt, that made me want more on his settlement with his parents.

The book was a quickie; the simplicity of the language made it a smooth read. Despite its deep theme, it does not seem heavy or burdensome and youngsters will highly resonate with it. There are some quotes that were quite deep and meaningful. Sample these-

"Sometimes even though we deeply want something, we also stop ourselves from getting it. Maybe we feel scared that something will go wrong. Perhaps, we feel we don't deserve the happiness that it may bring us. Whatever the reasons, sometimes, finding the courage to claim our own lives is not easy."

"Life always has a plan. Sometimes we don't know what it is. Still, we just need to have the belief, the faith and trust that it does. And that is enough to keep everything from crumbling."

"Change is a journey which is dark, messy, uncomfortable and scary. And one which can lead you to the most unexpected of places. Would you undertake such a journey just because someone asked you to? The desire for change has to come from inside, not from someone or something outside."

The overarching message of the book—that faith and trust in the journey of life can guide us through even the darkest times was stark. The friendship between Anya, Neel, and Roy helps one learn that support and understanding from others can help us navigate our most challenging moments. I would congratulate the author for having achieved this which makes this book a casual but poignant novel.