I finished reading ‘The life and times of Layla the Ordinary’ by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan (written popularly on the front cover as Minna Madhavan) recently. I would definitely say that I am immensely impressed by her writing quality. And the book gave me mixed feelings due to miscellaneous reasons touched upon in subsequent portion of this blog post.
If I have to rate the author on writing ability; I would give her 10/10. In this book, she appears witty and funny and shows an understanding and maturity so demanded on such sensitive stories. The story told in the form of ‘journal entries’ looks very appropriate and natural. I also noticed that Layla explained why she was writing a journal and it showed author’s care for details. There are sketches in the book, making the experience very interesting. Author is very innovative in such aspects. When I started reading it; I got to know it that I had not read something like this before.
The book mentions that it is meant for ‘young adults’. I think it can also be called ‘teenage melodrama’ or ‘growing up pangs’; or any other interesting way to put it. I confess that I have already crossed the (teen) age and hence I can afford to be skeptical about it. Anyways, that counted as my nostalgia for the beautiful years gone by. The main character of the story is called ‘Layla’ (she is touchy about the spelling btw!). She is still (blessed to be) in school and the story is written from her viewpoint. Here, I did have some objections. I believe that a girl of her age can’t have that much knowledge and understanding (or pretend to lack it) of herself; as it comes out from the book. In these pages, I guess the author has taken over the stage from Layla. And if Layla indeed was like Layla; she could not have been a bit confused and a self declared ‘ordinary’ at all.
Btw, I did not like it that Layla had to break it with Advait (the most popular boy in school). In fact what she did could very well be called ‘use-and-throw’; which boys popularly accuse girls with. But I also think that she won’t have broken up if her so called brave friend Suze was not there. It may be comforting to know that someone knows you better than you do; but we can never be sure about that. And I also think that Layla starting to flirt with Akash even when she was Advait’s girlfriend was indeed ‘cheating’. But it seemed that for Layla, the joy of no longer being an ‘ordinary’ girl was so high that she did not care at all about what was right and what was wrong. Anyways, it was her learning experience and we can’t be correct all the time. But I felt sorry for Advait; and I felt angry at Akash.
While the beginning of the book is brilliant and the author keeps the story exciting till very far; the later portions of the book became a bit boring and predictable. So I had to skip a few pages. But at an overall level, this is a good book.
Recommended only if you like to read such teenage stories; otherwise not.