‘Notes from an Imperfect Life’ by Jithu Biji Thomas is a general yet dark themed novella. It takes an unconventional stance on LGBT, family bonding, mental health, and bad life decisions. The story is narrated in a journal. All the characters in the book are nameless, yet intense and prolific with their roles.
At the façade of the story, we see a distraught and miserable father writing a diary for his step son. In the diary, he writes about his love affair before marriage and then life after marrying a divorcee, who was his ex-girlfriend. The man wasn’t happy with his choices in life. Yet he insists that life is a learning process and one can also learn from a failed guy. He considered himself failed…socially and economically and from marriage’s point of view. He also sheds light on the premises of societal pressure. He knows that whatever decision he made in life were somehow directly proportional to the society. He was in dilemma for a long time but still chose what his heart said. He wanted to live life according to his will but little did he know that society is the major obstacle on every route that he would chose to tread.
Anyway, coming back into the skin of the novella, we see that the father learnt something great from his gay step son. His stepson, who is also a part of LGBT community, when chose a gay partner, he defied all the social stigma and parameters. This made his father realize that life decisions should not be biased, rather should be made from heart.
Ahead in the book, we see his wife (mother of the gay son) commits suicide because she could not tolerate the stigma of her only son going gay. How a decision affects others life is evident in the book. There is also good coverage on the basics of family. For instance, the man who marries a divorcee with one child could not come to terms. It took him several years to accept the child of someone else. The book also sheds light on step father and son relationship. He is of the opinion like any other aspect, relationship too requires great foundation, allegiance, and bonding. The father is depressed and may go for suicide but he jots down many advice and suggestion and life lesions for his son. The world is not an easy place to live. One has to make his place and learn to accept things with time.
The novella is written with straight and predictable narration. But it gels the story in an engaging manner. It’s a short book that can be read in one hour. This time the message from the book is for the society that is merciless towards the people that want to live beyond its periphery.
Our View on the Cover:
Simplicity prevails. The cover is simple with a picture of a diary on which the title is engrossed, and in the backdrop there seems a buzz of some far-away fantasy world. The cover is good and it contrasts between reality and dreamland. Mixing of colours is captivating.
The story has nameless characters. It’s a novella, thus, it is fine for this experiment. In long novels, nameless characters confuse readers. Here the character of the father remains in the central voice. We know he is speaking all the time, narrating tales of others. It could have been better if the author assigned a few names in the book.
The novella passes as highly readable because of simple narration and decent storyline, above all it does not consume much time…a short read. The story explores the various dark aspects of our society and how it affects our decision-making capacity. Evident themes in the book are about mental health, family pressure and responsibility, life lessons, and society formation and a few more.
|Title||Notes from an Imperfect Life|
|Author||Jithu Biji Thomas|
|The Asian Review Rating||7.5 out of 10|