Book Review

Book Review - Asmara’s Summer

Author: Andaleeb Wajid

book cover of Asmara's Summer by author Andaleeb Wajid

By Raza Hasnain Naqvi

‘Asmara’s Summer’ is a novel written by Bangalore-based female author Andaleeb Wajid. The book was first published by Penguin Books India in 2016. 

This fiction book falls in the Amazon Books category - “Teen & Young Adult → Literature & Fiction”. 

The core readers of this YA literature are teenagers or young adults who can relate to it as it discusses their feelings, emotions and confusions that they deal with daily. 

I am not a young adult or teenager. Age-wise, I am a guy who is going to touch that magical, unbelievable and unthinkable mark of 50 years this year. Now, why did a half-century-young guy pick up a YA novel, start reading it, and then manage to finish reading the book in six days?

There are three reasons. 

One, I have known the author Andaleeb Wajid for almost 15 years. I think it was in 2009 when I first came in touch with her for some writing work. I was based in Lucknow. She was from Bangalore when she worked up a writing contract for me on behalf of her company where she worked. In other words, she became my ‘kind-of-boss/supervisor’. In our conversations, I came to know that she was also an author who had written her first novel ‘Kite Strings’. She was approaching publishers with her manuscript for ‘Kite Strings’. She got lucky – her debut novel got published the same year. 

Today, May 5, 2024, she has written and published 40 novels in 14 years.

Yes, read the previous sentence again. See if you can understand the gravity and seriousness of Andaleeb’s desire, longing and persistence to get all those stories out of her head.

What’s my second reason for reading ‘Asmara’s Summer’? On April 25, 2024, Season 1 of ‘Dil, Dosti, Dilemma’ (DDD)  – an OTT web series was released on Amazon Prime Video which was based on Andaleeb’s ‘Asmara’s Summer’. I have been following Andaleeb’s progress on social media over the years and we have exchanged messages on and off. So when she informed on her social media that her YA novel was coming to life on our TV/laptop/mobile screens, it was big news. 

Her novel’s 8-year-plus journey from 2016 in print to 2024 on screen is proof of the strength of Andaleeb’s story and her characters. Asmara, her friends and relatives finally stepped in front of our eyes and ears as they spoke audibly and played out their roles on our screens. The characters had leaped from the printed word, travelled beyond the imagination of the readers and morphed onto a new medium of expression. Andaleeb’s readers were delighted and impressed. 

Here’s my short comment on the OTT show. Short, because I am reviewing the novel here, not the OTT web series based on her novel. ‘DDD’ or 3D is only ‘based’ on Andaleeb’s novel. The show producers and writers have taken some of her characters and some elements from Asmara’s Summer and created their own story with new characters for the OTT series. The OTT story has nothing to do with Andaleeb’s novel. In fact, it’s literally and figuratively Over-The-Top. The story is interesting – agreed, and presented well, but if the viewer is comfortable ignoring logic in 3D, then all’s good. 

The third reason I picked up the YA novel was to see how similar or how different was the story written by Andaleeb herself. After seeing the web series and the kind of illogical twists and turns presented there by the show writers, I was quite sure that such twists could not be possible in Andaleeb’s story in the novel. I finished reading the novel on May 5, 2024 and I was right.  

The story of Asmara and all the events that surround her life in the novel is believable. There is real-life logic in all the things that Asmara experiences in the novel. If Asmara comes from a rich neighbourhood in Bangalore to live with her grandmother in a poorer section of the same city, her thoughts, emotions, words and actions follow a believable arc. The behaviour, thinking, attitude, culture and customs of normal Muslim families are presented in the novel as they are in real life.

Author Andaleeb WajidAuthor Andaleeb Wajid

Teen readers can connect with Asmara and how she feels and expresses herself in various life situations that she finds herself in the novel. Getting to know her grandparents and neighbours on Tannery Road – the affluence-ignored area – is as eye-opening for Asmara as it will be for young readers who follow Asmara’s life from her POV ‘point of view’ in the novel.

It’s not just young readers who will find the novel interesting, the 40s generation may also like it, if they want to go down memory lane and remember their own teen years and its mix of heartburns and heartaches. This kind of literature and fiction is made to order for 13-19 year-olds, the typical teen category that lives this phase of life in schools and colleges, surrounded by friends and family. 

The teenagers live in their own life bubble of confusion, confidence, chaos, indifference, emotions, feelings, anger, despair, joy and laughter. If the elders can understand their world, good for them, if not, teenagers don’t care or bother. All this masala of teen life and angst is mashed up well into a tasty dish that has been cooked by Andaleeb with the help of Asmara, the main character in her novel. 

I did not find anything that really irritated me or disappointed me in the novel. The book is a good read as book editors have done a commendable job in keeping the story and plot moving quickly. Scene setting, plot and sub-plots are smooth enough without any use of unnecessary words. Dialogues – internal and external – have been edited well to get the message out quickly and easily so that the Instagram/Facebook reel-exposed young mind of the reader does not have to exert itself much in understanding it.

If you (who may be a teen or tween) are looking for Over-The-Top entertainment, check out Dil, Dosti, Dilemma on Prime Video. If you want something real and relatable to read, order a copy of Asmara’s Summer. 

~ @bylineraza