Hedon loosely means Pleasure, or the pursuit of pleasure, indulgence. Now think of it in terms of a story and you can imagine the possibilities. However, hold your horses, the only Indulgence in this story is in reflecting on life and self.
Author: Priyanka Mookerjee
Publisher: Penguin India
Published: April 2016
Format reviewed: paperback
Rating: I don’t want to rate it out of 5 however it’s a thumbs down for me.
When Tara Mullick meets Jay Dhillon at a stifling society wedding, she forgets, for a moment, that she’s an awkward, chubby seventeen-year-old, dying to get out of her sparkly lehenga and back into the comfortable invisibility of an oversized T-shirt.
And all Tara can do is carry him with her, a talisman, over half a decade spent oscillating between India and the American heartland.
Laced with pop culture and a heady dose of decadence, this is the hedonistic experience of heedless millennials out in an ever-shrinking world and, within that world, the struggle to find a place or person to call home.
Profession of main characters: Student and World traveling businessman.
I requested a review copy of this title based on the Blurb, that’s the story summary on the back cover of the book. What I guessed to be a love story between 2 young people, a millionaire, alpha male and a teenager turned out quite different. I will remember not to assume the plot by the summary 😦 next time. Sure there is Love, albeit a different shade from the swoony, Romantic, HEA type that I expected. What I got was a love story which almost felt one sided, unrequited and unnecessary at a point.
Tara, the lead, falls for the rich businessman with an easy smile, easy on the eye looks, at a typical big Indian wedding; while she is 17, desperate to fly away to foreign skies. From a 17 year olds crush to a 21 year olds love for this Man, the story has a generous helping of philosophy, reflection in the story. Tara goes from being a promising teenager in Kolkata to a drug induced young adult, away from family at an American college.
Tara started out promising with her wit, dreams & aspiration while in India. All through her college years in America, she seems to have lost her way, while sporadically touching base via email, with Jay, the millionaire she’s fallen for. Their conversations are like philosophical ramblings, good to have once a while but nothing more. I couldn’t understand what stopped Tara from confessing her love for the guy; instead she plays it uber cool with him. She then goes and drowns herself in music, drugs and more self pondering.
Once back in India post finishing college, she moves to Delhi, gets a job in a publishing house & comes face to face with Jay & confesses her Love for him. At this point I thought finally the lovers will have a courtship, young love and all that but she ends up being his secret. There’s ever more rambling now about life while Tara realises & sees Jay’s relationship with her for it is. She knows it will never be more than a secret between them.
The rambling & reflections on life at times was depressive, I read reviews where this story is described as coming of age. All I could think was, Tara had no anchor, she gives up friends who understand her to be around strangers in America. She felt at ease amongst them but to me she felt like a rebel without a cause. The only hope I had for her was towards the end when she’s done with Jay, who turned out to be someone else all together. To me it was good riddance, but what’s next for Tara I couldn’t even hazard a guess. I hope she finds her way, overcoming the manic depression she seems to think she’s inherited from an old aunt in the family.
About the writing: There were good parts like the beginning of the story. The reflections of the lead character were depressing & reminded me of psychobabble of a hippie. If you think your character has manic depression you got to handle it not loose the character to strangers and drugs. So if that was the aim of the story it’s achieved it. Would I pick up the book again, a sure No. I want my Fiction to be enjoyable, a pleasure to read no matter what genre I choose, Hedon, well the story pulled me down.
I can see the teenagers, atleast some of them, eating up Tara’s words. As that’s what teenagers do believe the world is for their taking and once the reality sets in & the landscape around them changes; they turn philosophical and rambling at times which is what will appeal to them about this story.
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Priyanka Mookerjee grew up in India and was educated at Loreto House and the Ohio State University, where she studied Narrative Theory, Film, International Relations, and Popular Culture. She currently lives in Kolkata. This is her first novel.