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Andaleeb Wajid stays true to form in her new offering Twenty-Nine Going on Thirty, entertaining the reader while engaging them and making them think.
The first book that I read by Andaleeb Wajid was The Crunch Factor, and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately became a fan of her writing. I knew then I had to read her latest – Twenty-Nine Going on Thirty. Luckily, I got a chance to read it soon enough.
Wajid’s writing is breezy, entertaining, and very relatable. Her story-telling may be simple but the magic she creates will hook you and pull you in quickly enough – in fact, from the very first line itself.
The book opens with a dialogue between a boss and her three audaciously outspoken interns. Instantly, the line – ‘Bloody interns; think no end of themselves’ – jumped out at me, reminding me of the various instances where I, as a reporting manager of my subordinates, had harboured similar, if not the same, thoughts.
As if this wasn’t enough, the very next line reveals even more of what you’ve already experienced half your corporate life as a reporting manager of a team – wondering whether you’re the boss or them. This particularly resonated with me because we’ve all had junior staff speaking well beyond acceptable social limits.
That’s Priya’s life for you, or maybe that’s what your life is like too. Either way, it’s time to settle down in one corner with your face covered, lest passers-by throw you horrified looks and wonder about admitting you to an asylum for chuckling out loud to yourself.
The story about four friends, all fast approaching their thirtieth birthday, is one that anybody who was ever twenty-nine would love. Approaching the big three-oh is scary and confusing at the same time. The fears that you’re aging become real. And, if you’re single, then God save you from the ‘marriage’ talk – as Priya and her friends discover. The dread of leaving youth behind, the weird stares and reactions from those around you, the much-needed makeovers and the very real realization of aging and mortality is brought out brilliantly.
What I liked most about the book was that the four aren’t already friends when the story begins. Instead, Wajid slowly introduces each one of them, exposes their growing friendships through their interactions, and takes the reader to the joy of getting to know them all while they get to know each other too. The end result is that one understands how and why they all come together and become friends at all- despite being so starkly different from one another.
That’s another highlight of the book. The characters are real and relatable. They are as complex and flawed, as moralistically upright and ridiculously stupid, as the rest of us. I found Namrata’s character the most endearing of them all. Even the most insignificant characters like Amrita or Natasha stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Full points to the author for making them all so memorable even with limited page presence.
And yet, those are not the only high points of the book. The humour is evident through Wajid’s writing – not just in the language but also in the incidents and scenes that are narrated. The incidents of the rasam-soaked phone or of hiding the liquor left me greatly amused. The part where everyone discovers they’re all about to turn thirty soon is funny and relatable in equal measure.
A few lines that completely cracked me up –
The rest of the book too is peppered with such one-liners.
I’m a sucker for good romances, and this book has that too, in good measure. The getting-to-know-each-other, falling-in-love, as well as that initial phase of confused feelings and flirting with who seems to be the one for you is beautifully brought out through dialogues and non-verbal gestures by Wajid. Add the mandatory inquisitive friend who wants to know everything, and you know right away that this is going to be a hugely entertaining read. Wajid makes sure the book lives up to to the expectations, and more.
What I loved most was that there is no love at first sight here, or even that goggle-eyed looking at each other (except in one instance where it is more entertaining than annoying) where people can’t bear to be without each other. Wajid has steered clear of any tropes and yet managed to bring in the best that the genre has to offer.
While any comparison to an author’s previous books is unfair and unnecessary, I can’t help but draw them anyway since I read both the books so close to each other. And, even though each book stands tall on its own, I prefer Twenty-Nine Going on Thirty a teeny bit more, simply because of the complexities and nuances in the story-telling.
Do grab this one if you’re looking for an entertaining read about friendships and love that is complex, hilarious, dreamy, and heart-warming all at the same time.
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Top image is a still from the movie Angry Indian Goddesses, and book cover via Amazon
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