Book review | The Cloudburst by Rajesh Naiksatam
Author: Rajesh Naiksatam
No. of pages: 176
Genre: Adventure, Middle grade
Published by: Story Vision Magic Inc
Published on: 1st November 2018
My rating: ★★★☆☆
After fifteen-year-old Ganpu Aapla and his parents lose everything they own, including their beautiful ancestral home in Katalveldurwadi Dabhol, India, to a forced takeover by America’s Enrone Corporation, they move to Mumbai in search of justice. Ganpu’s family takes up residence in a temporary shack that doubles as a chai shop near the Bandra Kurla Complex in a Mumbai suburb.
One day during monsoon season, when Ganpu’s parents are out working, a harmless drizzle suddenly turns into a torrential downpour, which quickly floods the streets.
Julie, Rick, James, and Saira, four international students whose parents all live in India, are supposed to be taking a boat trip to the Elephant Caves, but the unexpected cloudburst dampens their plans. After the tour group heads back to land, their guide leaves them with a stranger—a local teacher named Anu—at a bus stop while he looks for help.
Local teens Siva, Javed, and Xinmin, enthralled by the Mumbai rains, decide to venture out into the city instead of going straight home after school and find themselves also stranded at the bus stop.
This ragtag group of mixed classes, races, and genders is forced to seek shelter with one another in Ganpu’s family’s shop. While they wait, the intensity of the rain increases, threatening their survival. With no way of contacting their frantic parents, the group reluctantly waits together to be rescued.
When it appears an outside rescue might be impossible, Ganpu wholly commits to saving the lives of his guests despite their distrust of him, a lowly roadside hawker. In order for his plan to work, though, he must destroy his family’s only home and livelihood, while each one of the stranded must overcome personal demons and prejudices.
Terrified and left with no other way out, Anu must conquer her own fears and motivate the kids to work together, or else the whole crew will face certain death.
This thrilling, edge-of-your-seat story demonstrates how courage, heart, and integrity is necessary to change our lives and the world around us.
Overall, a book about hope and courage, I would categorize this book as a middle grade read. The book starts out as the story of Ganpu and his parents going out to work leaving Ganpu in their little tea shack. A flashback to Ganpu’s previous lifestyle reveals that this family had been forced out of their land by an American company. This suggests that Ganpu has enough reasons to hate the rich strata of the society.
As the blurb suggest, fate makes the eight children meet each other in Ganpu’s shack and as the flood takes it toughest form in one Mumbai night, they are stuck together, helping one another, although reluctantly at first, to brace the calamity. Anu, a school teacher, is also stuck with them and Anu takes it upon herself to bring the kids together and work on their rescue mission.
The author has very deftly added societal differences, economic and class differences, prejudice and parental issues in this short novel and presented all of these in a book. Not to forget, the core of the book is about teamwork and courage.
Not gonna lie but my first impression of this book was very poor because of the book cover. It's nothing artful and looks like it was rather lazily made. But the author's narration and the plot which is really innovative caught my attention and I finished the book in a day.
What put me off is the innumerous sexual innuendos at the beginning of the book. They were completely unnecessary, considering the fact that its a children centric book.
I appreciate how the author has taken care into the simplest of things. From each of the kids' personality to the way they built the boats using the floorboards from Ganpu’s shack. The book would serve as inspiring to any young reader.
The author's language and all is fine but what put me off is the excessive description of each of the characters, be they the main or not. The character introduction is pretty bland and includes unnecessary description. Other than that the book is likable. Also, the dialogues between the kids could have been a bit more brushed.
Overall it's a good book for general readers, and school-going kids especially.