Friday, May 23, 2014

Daddy Come Lately

Daddy Come Lately
Author: Rupa Gulab
Publisher: Duckbill
Ages : Young Adult

Now here’s a blast from the past, I thought, when my copy of ‘Daddy Come Lately’ arrived in the mail . For wasn’t this once a book called Chip of the Old Blockhead, published  way back in 2006 by Rupa & Co. ? Well, back it is in a brand new avatar, courtesy Duckbill, with a few minor edits.

Thirteen year old Priya has grown up believing her father died before she was born. So imagine her surprise – read shock – when he turns up for dinner, then moves into the house next door and insists on making up for lost father-daughter time.  Priya is determined to hate him, of course, but when the whole world and its mother – okay, her mother – seem utterly taken by Dad the Bad’s charms, what is a girl to do?  It doesn’t help that the rest of her life chooses precisely this moment to get more complicated – her favourite teacher faces dismissal, her mother’s best friend seems overly friendly with Dad the Bad, and why is the boy next door acting so weird around her?

Priya makes for an entertaining narrator – she is sarcastic, whiny, devious, quite the drama queen – in other words, your average thirteen year old. Add to this a vocabulary fed by too much British school  fiction (Has anyone had ‘brekker’ since the ‘60s?  Or 'fancied' anyone outside of Old Blighty?) , a penchant for snide asides about everyone on her radar and a flair for over- reaction  - Priya , with all her quirks, is utterly believable. The plot, breezy  for the most part, takes a serious  turn when Priya runs away from home, and comes disturbingly close to being assaulted by a slimy hotel manager in faraway Mussoorie. Worry not, O reader - she gets away, in an escape  re-engineered in this edition of the book, to sound more with the times. ( Chip..  was, after all, released before Facebook and mobile phones shrank the world and changed the way we live our lives.)

Daddy… deals with some serious issues – divorce, incompatible parents, a lack of real communication between parents and their kids . While I wouldn’t say these were always dealt with realistically- the swift manner in which Priya’s parents reunite, for example, left me incredulous-  these are certainly situations a lot of the book’s young readers would identify with. I also imagine that a generation that has grown up with tools like Facebook and Google is going to find some aspects of the book hard to believe.  I found the portrayal of  Priya’s less than perfect mother interesting -  Tanu, we soon realize, tells lies to suit her purpose, manipulates her parents, spouse and daughter, and is childishly impulsive.  Incidentally, this is the second Duckbill  YA  I’ve read featuring a flawed maternal figure; this one, however, gets a far more sympathetic hearing.   

  I received this book as a review copy from the publisher; however, the views expressed here are entirely my own. The image used here is from the publisher's website.

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