Waves in the Sky by Rakhi Jayashankar: Book Review

Their friendship was like a kite that soared up in the sky, travelling through different strata, overcoming different obstacles but still safe, sound in the hands of the flyer.

Waves in the Sky (Canaries Book I)
by Rakhi Jayashankar

‘Waves in the Sky (Canaries 1)’ is a gripping tale of six girls – Charu, Ananya, Neha, Avantika, Raihana and Yami. Rakhi Jayashankar, the author of the book, was born and brought up in Kerala. Her life in Kerala definitely exudes in the characterization and building of atmosphere in the book. She crafts the lifestyle, culture and traditions of Keralites within the narrative.

The story begins on a sarcastic note on the present-day media coverage of rape incidents. This sets the tone for the book balancing carefully between the exuberance of six young girls and the serious problems confronting them in future. The narrative goes back and forth from the present to the schooldays of the Canaries.

We are taken to the year 2001, the schooldays of these six friends – Charu, Ananya, Neha, Avantika, Raihana and Yami studying in standard tenth at Naivedya, one of the prestigious schools in Kerala. These girls had stuck together for last five years living in the hostel. They called their group, ‘CANARY’, standing as an acronym for their names. Canaries’ flight to independence begins with this book, starting the story at adolescence and leading upto adulthood.

The author provides background story to each of the protagonists. Ananya and Avantika are fraternal twins, one beautiful and the other intelligent and embroiled in the sibling wars. Charu is the neglected daughter of rich parents living in Dubai. Yami grew up in an orphanage. Neha is brought up by her father, as her mother left them. In this group, Raihana is the only misfit who seeks to restrict her life to studies, away from the fun sought by other girls. Ofcourse, her predicament is sad, coming from a conservative Muslim family of Manjery, dreaming of working for an IT firm someday.

Canaries live in a world of their own in the hostel, away from the outside world. They have sports competitions, cultural events and the dreaded board examinations to plan for. Their naivety in praying the ‘Banyan Tree’ to keep them together is endearing. The Principal at Naivedya, Malini is the mother figure for the students of the school and especially, for the Canaries.

The bliss at Naivedya ends with the exams and the Canaries are separated. With each character, we see their individual stories soaring amidst the troubles of the outside world.

Malini’s character is, “Like the banyan tree in Naivedya, she hung her roots to let everyone climb her and soar up.” It is through her that the narrative takes a turn into a murder mystery. The girls unite after a gap of twelve years and are set on a task to find a murderer.

The author has tried to bring forth many social evils of our society, especially the issues faced by girls growing up in the conservative environment of Southern India. There are characters like Vishnu having no concern for his younger sister or for any other girl in the school, showing streaks of male chauvinism at such a young age. On the positive side, there are also examples woven in the main narrative to showcase people like Kalamandalam Haider Ali, a renowned Kathakali singer who sang about Hindu mythology.

The writing style is quite engaging, lucid and with ample doses of sarcasm. And, I am sure this is just the first part of the story and we have plenty more in this series to look forward to.

Verdict

Scenario     :    4/5

Narration    :   3.5/5

Character    :   4/5

Entertainment Quotient: 4/5

“I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset” 

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