Book Name: Turning Back Time
Author: Shravya Gunipudi
Publisher: Gargi Publishers
When people we love pass away, they only take their presence with them. They leave their memories with us. The story revolves around ‘Alia’, an emotionally distant woman, and how the lives of four elderly strangers impact her own very deeply, bringing about a change in the way she treats herself and those around her. As the clock begins to tick and they each start to die, leaving their stories behind for her to learn from, she finds that the depression and trauma caused by their loss have left with her the gift of a lifetime… Realisation. In the tale of life, death and the ride in between, where there are always mistakes and never second chances, there is only one question. Can you make it through without regrets?
We come across stories everywhere. There are stories which are easily forgotten, while there are stories which leave you with a lingering bittersweet emotion long after you have read or heard them. Turning Back Time, written by Shravya Gunipudi, belongs to the second category. The novel consists of not one, but four emotional tragedies, which end with ‘If I could turn back time, I would….’, and which have the potential to drive you to tears. Above all that, you’ll learn lessons for a lifetime. Each story has a message to take home.
The author concentrates on the central theme – realization. And each story does justice to it. All the elderly characters – Raman, Hema, Girish, and Sita have a bitter past to narrate and each one’s story ends with a realization. These stories have a deep impact on the protagonist Alia, who learns her lessons and imbibes them in her real life. Shravya pens these four stories with a raw flavour and you can instantly feel a connect with them. The stories also throw light upon sensitive issues which prevailed in our grandparents’ generation (a few which still exists) – domestic abuse, forced marriage, forbidden love, sati, and sexual abuse. Apart from all the lessons and messages which the stories teach the readers, what keeps the stories connected is the strong undercurrent of human emotions, which are rarely focused in new-age novels.
I also liked the subplot – a cute love story between Alia and Mayank. Though the mood of the main stories are serious, this lighthearted love story is sure to cheer you up. Another plus point of the novel is that Shravya doesn’t make the stories too preachy. They are philosophical, yet engaging. The narration is deeply engrossing, which will keep you hooked till the end. The cover by Amol Karambe is really excellent and deserves a special mention. Despite the beautiful love story of the lead pair, I felt that their realization of love was rather rushed. Shravya could have added more scenes for them or she could have made them realize their love in a gradual manner. However, that’s my personal opinion.
Overall, Turning Back Time is a thought-provoking novel. Books like this one should be given the highest place in ‘Indian Literature’, instead of encouraging nonsensical campus romances to that position.
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