The Power of Purpose: A book review of The Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi Vohra

Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in Bombay. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people, and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned.

 But life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a wave of fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.

 Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself, and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gang rape case in New Delhi, which evokes painful memories of his own past trauma.

 Set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, and inspired by true events, Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age urban drama that explores the complex layers of humanity. And the city that engenders them.


Review

The Diary of an Angry Young Man by Risha Vohra is a heart-touching novel that shows the power of purpose. The novel takes the reader into the heart of the streets of Bombay through the eyes of a young man who is filled with anger because of the injustice that he has experienced and perceived. 

Through the eyes of Raghav, the reader experiences the struggles of being underprivileged and the frustrations that come along with it. Because he is keenly aware of his social status, he is first to notice the branded clothes that his classmates are wearing and the brand of the cars that they are driving and he is quick to compare these with the little that he has.

The novel also depicts that because of his poor social status, he is exposed to horrible experiences that no one should ever experience such as manslaughter and rape, and how these events shaped him to be an angry, young man who loathed the injustice in society and secretly envied the rich. In a way, The Diary of An Angry Young Man illustrates the struggles that the underprivileged go through and how these experiences negatively taint their perspective towards life which traps them in the never-ending cycle of poverty.

With a character that is filled with so much inner turmoil, what makes the novel stand out is the resolution it provides to the protagonist to help him find his purpose. By the end of the novel, Raghav finds a job that gives him a sense of duty and a direction in life. The resolution is simple but the message is profound. Nowadays, finding your purpose is commonly linked with something incredibly life-changing that creates an impact on society. Yet, The Diary of an Angry Young Man presents a different perspective which shows that your purpose can be something as simple as finding a job yet it brings peace into your life. The novel also highlights that finding your purpose is a step-by-step process and it starts with being committed to a particular goal and being focused on achieving it. Lastly, it illustrates that working towards your purpose requires a shift in perspective and a change in attitude. 

I liked the message of the Diary of an Angry Young Man. However, when I read through the story, there were some unfamiliar terms for me and this was because I am not that familiar with Indian culture and these unfamiliar terms were generally used in lengthy conversations. It would have been helpful if there was a brief explanation of what certain words such as ‘Musahib’ means.

This book contains themes on child rape, organized crime, and hints at child prostitution. A few readers may not be comfortable reading books that contain these themes.

Overall, The Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi Vohra contains a powerful message on how having a purpose can bring clarity into a chaotic life. It is inspirational and it would suit readers who enjoy reading success stories of individuals who overcame their struggles despite all odds. 


Synopsis from Goodreads.com

Disclaimer: Thank you Rishi Vohra for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

For more information on books by Rishi Vohra, you may visit his website: www.rishivohra.com

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