The Helpline – Book Review by Ila Garg (Repost)

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The Helpline
By Uday Mane
Review By Ila Garg
 
The Helpline, a gripping narrative by the debutant writer Uday Mane is published by Frog Books (an imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd). The paper and print quality show that it is a publication house that we should keep an eye on. The cover designed by Yogesh Parab is apt as much as the title is and hooks the readers. It will instantly make you want to grab the book and read on.
 
Born in Pune and brought up in Mumbai, Uday Mane works as a Social Media enthusiast during the day and a storyteller during the night. He is an avid reader, and loves to collect classic books. The Helpline is his literary debut.
 
The blurb reads as, Samir is suicidal. Rachael works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir’s story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life.
 
As his story reaches its conclusion, Rachael will know the true reason behind his suicidal tendencies. But this suicide helpline is not any ordinary service. There is more to the mysterious and yet so convincing voice of Rachael. As this new mystery begins to unfold, Samir is going to discover three things:
 
What is The Helpline?
 
Who is Rachael?
 
What is Samir’s own identity?
 
Every year, several teenagers in India attempt suicide because of failing relationships, dwindling careers, parental pressure or the competitive world.
 
This story is about one such teenager, his early problems and the hurdles to cope with them. This story is about finding hope in the struggle. This story is about fighting for what you believe in and discovering your true identity. This is not a story about falling in love. This is a story of rising from a failed love story.”
 
Note: “Proceedings of Rs. 5 per book will be used for child welfare through The Rotary Foundation”
Needless to say it is a story of love undoubtedly; a failed love that led to self-discovery. Samir, the protagonist is well etched by the author who desires for a life with a girl who made him a changed man, but fate has only disappointments in store for him. He is a good person all set to lose his identity and re-create himself.
His best friend Neha is probably his only companion who stands by him through thick and thin. Later, she indirectly leads him to a life changing experience. In the journey of this book, Samir grows up, learns from his surroundings, love finds him when he is off guard and he embraces it as his whole life, only to realize that life is about struggles. It doesn’t always go smooth, he suffers and is rendered suicidal despite being a keen writing enthusiast.
The way Uday Mane has penned down this particular story is really appreciable. The author has described every emotion very beautifully. There are episodes in the book that make you feel so anxious for Samir. You almost develop an unsaid bond with him. Right from the beginning, you feel a connection that doesn’t let you put the book down.
 
The 252 page book takes you along with it and makes you realise that all that glitters is not gold after all. The story is quite meaningful and the main reason that I loved this book is the characterization. The narrative is tactfully written and the readers wouldn’t find it difficult to keep up with the pace of the story. The language is easy to comprehend and there would be no difficulty in understanding the various twists and turns in the novel. The author has skillfully used the helpline (as evident from the title, yes it does play a major role in the book) to create such a beautiful and heart-melting story.
 
The too many turmoil of Samir’s love life is just one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in The Helpline. To find out whether he survives the misery of a broken love story, how he turns suicidal and who is Rachael, how she helps him through a suicide helpline, is he able to discover himself after all, how strong is his friendship with Neha, how long will she stick to him to help him survive, what role do the books play in his life, how significant is this mysterious girl Riya and her brother Siddhartha in Samir’s life, when the time comes will he choose to survive or go in an oblivion world; you will have to read the novel,The Helpline.
 
For a debut writer, Uday Mane has done it; he has proved his mettle and yes he is an excellent writer. The way he has captured all the intricate emotions of a dejected heart, kept me glued to this book.

Ratings: 4/5

Buying Links: Infibeam|Landmark|BOOKadda|uRead|Amazon|Crossword|Flipkart

Read the complete review here: Crumpled Voices

The Helpline – Making of the Book

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The Helpline is my debut novel. It took me roughly 18 months to finish this book. The book underwent a lot of changes during the period. After writing 50% of the book in third person style, I realized it wasn’t convincing enough. So I switched the mode to first person and finished the book in roughly 8 months.

I sent the first draft to a few close friends. The reviews were mixed.

Somehow, I knew there was room for improvement. So I opened the manuscript and started rewriting the whole thing again. Somewhere between the second draft and final manuscript, there were long, scary patches of uninvited blocks and what-the-fuck-am-I-doing phases. Chapters and characters were deleted, scenes eliminated, sentences annihilated; it only reminded me of 3 words…Kill Your Darlings.

It was late April 2013 when I had, convincingly, finished the manuscript and started sending it out to publishers. The book was sent to 25 publishers across India. I never heard from 23 of those publishers.

One publisher based out of Delhi called me up and expressed his opinion on the book. The publisher recommended some changes in the climax before accepting the book for publication. I wasn’t convinced. So I moved on.

A couple of months later, I received the letter of intent from Leadstart Publishing and things soon began to fall in place. On 29th March, 2014, the book was launched by Padma Shri Paresh Rawal at Sivaswamy Auditorium in Chembur – thanks to Tushar Gangoly of Rotary Deonar Club.

Several people have asked me – Is it based on your life?

I have always answered with a NO on my lips and a YES in my head.

No, the scenes in the book are not based on my life. All the situations and scenarios from page 1 to page 252 are purely fictional.

Yes, a part of the book is inspired from the people I have met and observed in my life. For instance, the character of Aslam draws a heavy inspiration from a 12-year-old boy living on the streets of Shivaji Park. This kid was sharp, smart and extremely passionate about studying. He went to a local municipal school and mostly struggled with English. We spent an hour everyday studying English lessons from his school textbook. This kid also became a reason why I decided to donate a part of book’s sale (Rs. 5 per book) as a charity for child welfare through The Rotary Foundation.

Some people have told me that the concept of the book is unique and wonder how it came about. The answer for this too has a relevance to an incident in my life.

It was the summer of 2007. I had recently had a breakup and being an emotional fool,  I took shelter among books. I spent my entire day in crosswords engrossed in books. I lost count of how many books I had read that summer. While on my usual routine at crosswords, I met a girl. I was surprised how easily we hit it off. A few days later, I asked her about the scars on her wrist and she confessed to having attempted suicide and several reasons behind it.

That incident somehow etched in my head. I had not discovered writing until the end of year 2008. When I did, I knew what my first book would be about.

The Helpline is not only about suicide issues among teenagers though. At the heart of it, The Helpline is a romantic-drama set in modern times. It is about relationships that bond and strengthen as well as of those that weaken and wither. It is about selfishness and selflessness. It is about failures in life. Above all, The Helpline is about self-discovery.

The Helpline is Samir’s story – his struggle to come to terms with unfortunate events in his life and his willingness to fight back. The Helpline is Samir’s journey towards his self-discovery.

You can buy the book here:

Flipkart: http://bit.ly/TheHelpline
Snapdeal: http://bit.ly/SD-TheHelpline

Read it. Review it.

 

The Helpline

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