Twelve-year-old Krishna Singh has been married off to Shyam Singh of Rokhagadh, Rajasthan. Before the wedding, Krishna’s grandmother gives her a box filled with exquisite jewellery, telling her to sell it in times of trouble, but otherwise to hide it from her parents and in-laws.
Accompanied by Gudiya, the fifteen-year-old widow of her cousin, Krishna realises that her cold marital home is a far cry from the loving one she left behind. The world outside has modernized and is beamed via television into her home. But she is not allowed to go to school, instead a female tutor comes home to teach her. A dubious father-in-law, a husband away at boarding school, and a mousey mother-in-law clearly show Krishna what is a woman’s place in this family.
An unfortunate incident leads Krishna and Gudiya headlong into a series of events that change their lives forever. As they deal with one situation after another, the girls discover each other and learn much about the world they live in. Bubble Wrap is a story about their fight for survival against impossible odds in a shallow male-dominated society.
~ Synopsis from goodreads
Wow! I don’t know what I was expecting when I dived into this book. All I knew was that it was about child-marriage, and I put off reading this book for some time because I was apprehensive about reading a sad sob story. It is also Kalyani Rao’s début novel and I wasn’t sure if she was skilled enough to carve out the plot without veering into melodrama territory.
What I didn’t expect was such a fast-moving, entertaining story. Yes, the book is sad in parts, tragic even, but it was also inspiring and uplifting, and a lovely story of friendship and loyalty.
The two young girls – Krishna, the innocent child bride of 12 and her friend – a child widow of 16 are fantastic characters and are written very well. The book captures their adventures in Krishna’s new home (her in laws place) where she goes as a bride and after they run away. And what adventures they have!
Now make no mistake, there are tons of plot holes, inconsistencies, and grammar gotchas in the story, but somehow when I read it, I found I didn’t mind them quite so much. The book was so entertaining and gripping that I was able to overlook these issues and still recommend this book.
For example, I found it a little odd that a 12-year old married child like Krishna was left so ignorant about the basic facts of life. Even when her body matures, Gudiya didn’t think it right to explain anything about body reproductive functions to her. Her ignorance seemed quite odd especially when you consider the entire story in total.
Another over the top thing was that almost every man in the book seems to be evil. Of course this was necessary to guide the plot towards the end, but I found it a little nonsensical that everywhere these kids went there seemed a man waiting to abuse them and /or sell them back to the villains.
However, like I said before the entertainment value overrode the plot weaknesses and the ending was the biggest surprise of all and totally made the book for me.
Overall the very visual storytelling (the story jumped off the pages, and I think this book will make an excellent candidate for Bollywood movies), fast pace, and unusual story worked well enough to overcome the negatives.
This is a book a bit in the style of Q and A, and if you liked that book, then you will like this one too.
Huge thanks to the author for sending me this book for review consideration.