Book Review: Ela by Sampurna Chattarji


Sampurna Chattarji 


Price: INR 250

Publisher: Scholastic Nova

Rating: 4/5

Ela’s life is pretty perfect. Smart and talented, she has everything she needs – great friends and cool parents. On her thirteenth birthday however, Ela’s life turns upside down – in a fit of temper, her nasty little neighbour blurts out that she’s been adopted. Disbelieving at first, Ela feels utterly betrayed by her parents for keeping this fact a secret. She copes by shutting everyone out by locking herself in a little corner in her brain. Lonely and hurt, she takes to working through her angst by putting pen to paper. The fantastical story that emerges throws up questions she has no answers for and ideas that make her uncomfortable.

Ela is a strange, strange book. But I don’t mean that in a bad way (There is no exquisite beauty … without some strangeness in the proportion – Edgar Allan Poe). Even though it’s so far out of my comfort zone (both in subject matter and target age i.e. Young Adult), it had me completely hooked. The style is wholly unique – narrated in Ela’s voice with just a smattering of conversation. Most of the book is more stream of consciousness than anything else. The story Ela writes by channeling her rage is just as strange and unique and fascinating as the rest of the book.

At the heart of it however, Ela is very much a normal teenager with all the melodrama and chip-on-the-shoulderness that implies. There were many moments I just wanted to shake her back into her senses because she was behaving like a class A brat. But I learned to appreciate her drama too because Chattarji does such a brilliant job of getting you into the mind and skin of her character. 

Ela is an interesting book. It may prove to be too angsty even for YA fans, but it still deserves to be read.

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