Book Reviews

What Mina Did by Geeta Menon – Book Review

BLURB

A single betrayal can cost you everything… 1998. Twenty-two-year-old Mina is moving to the US from Bangalore to begin a new life with her husband. Then there’s a horrific murder and her life is turned upside down. Mina’s best friend Neelu helps her out of the abyss.
Mina gradually leaves her past behind and settles into a new life in the US. Years later, she is forced to return to India and is confronted by the demons from her past. In her fragile mental state, she is unable to support Neelu in her time of need. Their friendship hits rock bottom. Mina goes back to the US and faces further hurdles, this time on the work front. She tries to make amends with Neelu, but their friendship ends with Neelu accusing Mina of something unimaginable related to the murder.
Something, that deep down, Mina knows is true… Will Mina redeem herself? Will the people she loves forgive her for what she did? Alternating between flashbacks and the present day, What Mina Did explores how one betrayal can have catastrophic consequences while delving into the complex bonds that link mothers and daughters, and best friends.

My Review

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a mental health condition that comes into the picture after the patient experiences a terrifying event. It is followed by severe anxiety attacks, nightmares, etc. It is this mental health problem which has been represented in this book and forms the central theme of ‘What Mina Did‘.

Mina has been the witness of an excruciating event in her life which culminated into the brutal death of her Amma. She is guilt-ridden and finds it extremely difficult to with the enormity of it. After four years, when she is back to India, her condition worsens. She did have an important role in her Mother’s death, a betrayal, which is unraveled gradually with the progress of the story. Meanwhile, her best-friend Neelu is in shreds after her parents fail to understand her love for an African-American man. She submits it to their desires and marries the groom of their choice. However, the marriage collapses in some time and that brings us to question if thinking of the society does any good? The book has reached the end and what Mina did is revealed long before, then how does the narrative relate to the title? This turned out to be a major issue with me.

I am absolutely in love with the writing style of the author which is very much engaging and praiseworthy. The storytelling makes us see the events clearly, though in our heads, and feel the pain of the characters. It evokes our empathy and makes us realize how challenging PTSD could actually be. The character development has been sketched very well. Be it Mina’s anxiety of nausea, Neelu’s aggravating temper, Vijay’s (Mina’s husband) care and affection, Ajit’s indifference – everything felt natural and real. Also, the bond between Mina and Neelu was heart-warming to see. The connection Mina shares with her mother was equally beautiful. She recalls her mother’s qualities with so much fervor that we come to actually love the old lady. The alternation between the past and present was smooth and enticing.

The cover has been done tastefully. I liked that sombreness which it tries to reflect because that fits with the context and tone of our narrative. The book also explores the deep-rooted orthodox beliefs of our Indian society where casteism and racism have a BIG role to play in choosing one’s life partner. It was disheartening to see through Neelu’s parents’ insensitivity which eventually forces her to attempt to end her life. What I disliked was how the main plot which was supposed to be Mina’s regretful act has been pushed to the back as Neelu’s subplot comes forth. I wanted more from Mina’s side. I was expecting some thrill, some bewildering mystery but didn’t find any. Plus, there were instances where I found the narration incomplete. For example, I still don’t have any idea why Ajit decides to call off his marriage with Neelu.

In short, the book is definitely recommended for people looking for a high-quality reading experience. Because despite a weak plot treatment, I can’t overlook the vivid description that the author etches in our brain with her convincing writing. The book will tell you that PTSD is real and how gravely it could affect one’s well-being!

MY RATING: 4/ 5


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