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Book Review: Romi and Gang by Tushar Raheja

Title: Romi and Gang
Author: Tushar Raheja
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: Pirates Publishers(May 1st 2013)
Genre: Childrens Books
Read: Paperback
Stars: **/5
Buy On: FlipKart | Amazon
Summary: (Goodreads)

Unruly and reckless, thirteen-year-old Romi is the hero of his universe. His great affinity for adventure and the unknown is shared by his gang – the rascal Sukhi, the deadpan Sunny, the naïve Golu and his blood brother, Kim.

When legendary Kim disappears from Mauji, it is left to the four to conquer the maidan with cricket and the world with their wits. Of course, they must prepare for responsibility in between and, one day, go after Kim.

My Review:

Thanks to the Pirates for offering me this book to read and review :)

Cover: Eye-catchy!

Paper and font: So-so.

Readability, language: Easy language but it could have been more readable.

Why did I choose this book: It’s been ages since I read a children’s book.

Romi and Gang is a story of four school friends and the game of cricket. Each child dreams of being a Sachin Tendulkar, Viv Richards, or some other famous cricketer but life doesn’t play out that simply. Like a game of cricket, life throws a lot of googlies at the boys in the town of Mauji. Playing cricket on the maiden the boys dream of bringing back the lost pride of their school by winning the Eagle – a inter-school cricket trophy. How it all pans out and what happens in the crucial match is the story.

The cover illustration is an eye-catchy picture of children running that reminded me of some children’s books I’d read ages ago and the title reaffirms that. The blurb, well, I wouldn’t say it’s well done but neither is it bad, lets just say it’s so-so.

The plot of ‘Romi and Gang’ was new to me since I’ve not read a lot of cricket based books however the story does have more to it that cricket. There are a lot of sub-plots as Romi and his friends Sukhi, Sunny and Golu face challenges through the school year both at home and school. Then there is Kim, a character much talked about but never seen. Raheja has a lot of sub-plots in the story but I’m not sure if all of them were necessary.

Set in the small town of Mauji, Raheja has done a good job of describing the town. In my minds eye I could see the boys race down the market street knocking in to people and things as they raced against each other. It was also easy to imagine the maidan and the forest that eats up balls as they played cricket.

‘Romi and Gang’ has a fair number of characters if you include the families and teachers of the boys too. The story however largely revolves round Romi and his friends. The boys are easy to associate with as I sure knew a few boys like them as a kid. Romi is a typical 13 year old with his confused emotions and thoughts. Sukhi, Sunny and Golu are so like the friends we all have, quirky and wonderful. Then there is Kim, the boy all the boys look up to and who Romi considers a blood brother. A lot is spoken about him and his prowess, and I was looking forward to him making an entry but, he doesn’t. :(

‘Romi and Gang’ has a good story however I wasn’t happy with the way it is written. Raheja went all over the place without warning and jumped places and situations at random, leaving me all confused with most of the story. It was only towards the end, when the cricket match was looming that I could make sense of the story and that part of it was good. There are also a few loose ends in the story, Kim for one. I know I’ve been repeating myself but if you have a character that is talked about through the book, you should either give him entry or close the loop. I don’t have Romi stuck so much in my head as I have Kim.

The book also has illustrations which I liked, a good artist (Biswajit Das) but I found at least one illustration wrong. In one scene Romi tackles a tantric and pins his neck down with his legs. In my head I could so see this that the illustration of Romi holding the tantric with his hands at the throat made me go back and reread the text. The illustration felt so wrong. A little more attention to detail would have been nice.

Over all the story is a good one but I’m not sure if it’s clear and simple enough for children. Or maybe I didn’t see it’s simplicity and clarity because I’m not a kid. Either ways the language used and the topic chosen will definitely work for boys. What’s with the cricket craze in boys/men? There are other sports you know which are just as much fun.

If you have a son or are buying a book for a boy, ‘Romi and Gang’ might be worth a shot.

About the Author:
Tushar’s website is under-construction and his Facebook page says “When you read something like – TR is a bestselling author, mathematician, guitarist, musician, photographer, blah and more blah – be reminded that the tareef may just be written by him.” So if you want to know more about him, you better ask him. All I do know is that Romi and Gang was earlier published by Roli Books in 2011 under the title ‘Run Romi Run’ and that Tushar Raheja has also written another work of fiction, titled ‘Anything for You Ma’am’. 😀

Buy On: FlipKart | Amazon

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