Book review | Make Love Not Scars by Ria Sharma

Author: Ria Sharma

Genre: Non-fiction, Biography

No. of pages: 196

Published by: Westland Publications

Published on: 25th February 2019 

Format: Paperback 

My rating: ★★★★★

A Delhi brat studying fashion design at Leeds College of Art decides to devote her final-year project to ‘women’s empowerment'. What begins as a one-off engagement with the lives of acid-attack survivors draws her back to India to shoot a documentary on their lives. Then, an effort to raise funds for one of the survivors catapults Ria Sharma into the corrosive, devastating world of acid attacks.

Today, she runs the award-winning NGO Make Love Not Scars, which works with survivors to raise funds. This is the story of how, over the years, Ria slowly learnt to find her groove as a campaigner and crusader as well as counter death threats, ageism and sexism. Her own story is closely woven with the stories of the many women who have helped her grow from a fickle girl into a woman of substance.

Peppered with humour and bubbling with wisdom, Make Love Not Scars is an unusual coming-of-age tale.

I have nothing critical to say about book other than these four words - please read this book! In this heartbreaking yet motivational book by Ria Sharma, the author lays down her journey of self-discovery and forming her NGO - Make Love Not Scars - for acid attack victims and giving these victims a second chance at a more beautiful life.

Make Love Not Scars traces Ria Sharma's journey of how she became a strong, confident and selfless individual from a spoilt, dependent and materialistic young girl. Ria's voyage - as she fought with the justice system, helped every acid attack victim in spite of the fierce challenges and her adamancy in establishing her NGO against all odds - makes this book an inspiring read. 

Ria's accounts of all the initial horrors she met while setting up her NGO which includes brutal descriptions of her 'Burns Ward' visits in hospitals and her victims' stories is a hard-hitting blow to readers like me who haven't had a single idea about how cruel and cold-blooded these acid attacks are in general. 

This book has left me speechless. Especially the part when the author says - 'All these women had one thing in common - they were all victims of that one-second of anger that had corroded off their existence' I gasped out loud. I remember reading this part while travelling in the bus and people around me asked if anything was wrong with me. Some parts of the book are too horrifying for one's imagination, yet I read this book. I read it because it gave me strength. I hope even if we can't directly help any acid attack victim, reading this book, knowing and acknowledging about their fight and supporting their dreams will help them in some way or the other. 

Words aren't enough to describe how brutally honest this book is. It is really commendable what Ria Sharma has done for these acid attack victims. Her work and book will continue to inspire millions of people and will immensely help those in dire need. Please read this book. Even though I've said this sentence twice already I'll keep recommending this book to people so that it raises more and more awareness about this grievous crime known as acid attack. 

RIA SHARMA is the founder of the NGO Make Love Not Scars (MLNS), which has since 2014 rehabilitated over sixty acid-attack survivors and significantly contributed towards the awareness around the sale of acid and acid attacks in India. Their campaign #EndAcidSale won a Gold Cannes Lion in film in 2016. And MLNS became the first NGO to win Brand of the Year at the CNBC-TV18 Indian Business Leader Awards. In 2017 Ria became the first Indian to receive the United Nations Bill and Melinda Gates GoalKeepers Global Goals Award; in 2018 she featured on Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 and was named on India Today’s ‘50 most influential women under 50’ list.

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. 


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