I will frankly tell you that I'm not often a sucker for love stories, and recently I've read so many that it is really difficult to make me a like a love story simply because I've read too many. However, A Dilli-Mumbai (Love) Story did not only make me go, "Aww" at places, but also made me almost cry near the end. Note that I say near, and not at the end, where many talented authors can get a tear or two out of me simply by killing a character I was especially fond of. I will not tell you whether or not Abhimanyu Jha does this, but I will tell you that I was very pleased with how he went with the conclusion and I was extremely glad he did not chicken out and rob this story of the end that it rightfully deserved. I think that he handled a pretty turbulent subject - a love story that happens in the time of terrorism (or more specifically, the terror attacks on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai) - with the subtlety that the subject demanded.
I liked the writing a lot. It was not only impeccable as far as spelling and grammar were concerned, but was also extremely well-paced. I loved how the author skips between the scenes of many different years in one chapter and makes you realize the significance of each line that Apu (the female lead) says - and when the author repeats some of these at the end of the book, well, thats the time when I felt like crying. The author handles the non-linear storyline with remarkable ease and makes it very easy for the reader as well by providing dates at every scene break (though I admit to having skipped those most of the time - after two scenes I knew which one belonged to which time period). I don't think many readers will have trouble understanding this book, which is written simply but elegantly. There is abundant use of colloquial language, hindi, and chat speak - all at appropriate locations. The only place where I could complain was when there was a <3 used in the place of the word 'love' even in dialogue, which I found terribly annoying. Yes, I get how its cute and matches with the title of the book and all that, but I find such things jarring in the actual narrative. I can understand chatspeak and smileys when you're showing the texts of the characters (in fact, I LOVED that touch) but not in the middle of the story for no apparent reason.
The characters were another thing I really liked about the book. At first, I will admit, with names like Aniruddha (shortened to Ani) and Aparajita (shortened to Apu) I was a little confused as to which one was male and which one was female. But they turned out to be extremely well-written characters (especially Ani, who narrates the book) filled with flaws and loves and dreams and lives that were bigger than the story itself. Yes, they got filmi sometimes, especially with the whole love at first sight and "I love you so much I'll put aside my dreams for you" stuff but thankfully they didn't overdo it. The other characters were also fun and believable - I loved Ani's sister Aaru and his best friend Rohan and Gill Uncle - who was a great character and also Ani's friend, companion, guide and only source of comfort. In fact, had the others not been such great characters, I might have been more upset at the end of the book. The way things are, I'm convinced that everyone will get out of the tragedy that is terrorism and move on with their lives somehow.
Final thoughts: Well-written, touching without being extremely cheesy and with great characters - A Dilli-Mumbai <3 (Love) Story is worth a read.
Other thoughts: Look out for author Abhimanyu Jha's interview on my blog soon! Until then, stay tuned because I've got many great books to review in the next two weeks.
(Financial disclosure: Book source was the author.)