Title : Aporva's Fat Diary
Author: Nandini Nayar
Illustrator : Lavanya Karthik
Publisher : DC Books Mango
This is a story of a twelve year old girl, Apoorva and her tryst with writing which almost gets 'thrust' upon her by her mother. Amma wants to inculcate the habit of writing in Apoorva and after some intelligent negotiations between the two, Apoorva agrees to write about the twelve best meals that she would eat in the next few days. With this pact rightly in place, mother and daughter, both feel triumphant as 'a family which fools each other, stays together'.
Apoorva has some weight issues as well and Amma makes all efforts to make her run a few rounds around the building, very early in the morning. Because of her weight, she ends up being the target of many jokes(some not so innocent), criticism and suggestions.
As she begins to write about some delectable meals, many other aspects of her life creep into her chronicle. How could it be otherwise? From her family, friends, school and bus buddies, home visitors, her activities to her musings - her diary entries have mention of everything, AND THE MEALS TOO. Through her diary readers get acquainted with her little brother Ashu, her elder sister Avantika, her grandmother Aji and her best friend Avinash.
Apoorva goes on with her life like any twelve year old does, enjoying support of some congenial individuals while having to endure some not so agreeable ones but her indomitable spirit remains unruffled. Her bus peers and some school mates tease her for her weight but Apoorva takes their jokes very sportingly, rather joins them in laughing at those jokes. But one particular uncle makes her extremely uncomfortable, more so because of his advances towards her sister. When she confronts a certain situation where she needs to act, and act fast, she does pretty well, in fact she bravely salvages the day.
Nandini's Apoorva is a real and identifiable character, what, with her true to real description of how unsure usually pre-teens feel and behave. Many would identify with - eating others' lunch boxes, disliking Annual Sports Day at school, trying to learn the order of letters for the eye examination, seeing all clean world after getting first pair of spectacles, the feeling of discomfort in the presence of some people and much more.
The book is a perfect gift for young adults who wage various battles at many fronts in their regular routine. It sure would impart some amount of self confidence in them and would help them believe that a few (in)consistencies in appearance or otherwise do not mean the coup de grace. What Apoorva takes away from the experience of writing in the diary is to remain true to her hunches, her wishes and her abilities. There are high chances that her experience would rub on to the readers too. Though the book subtly passes on some subtle messages yet at no point the narrative sermonizes or talks down to the readers.
Through the illustrations, our very own in-house artist, Lavanya has taken Apoorva's Diary to a completely new level. Her proficient strokes pump life in all the characters. With her simple black and white sketches, she brings beautiful colours as Apoorva makes progress in her writing. The chubby, warm-hearted Apoorva endearingly picturised by Lavanya would remain with the readers for a very long time.
[Disclosure: I received this book from the illustrator of the book. The decision to review it, and share my opinions here, is entirely my own.]