MUSKAAN: THE STORY OF HER SMILE (2018) by Sneha Ganesh is a beautiful, heartwarming story. It is a short read that proves that with determination and support from those who love you, it is extremely possible to overcome adversity and society’s perceptions.
At four, the protagonist Muskaan realizes she is not able to talk and has no way to go about explaining her inner feelings about this or anything else she wishes to convey to her Mum and Dad. She also struggles to make friends with children who aren’t understanding of Muskaan having aphonia. Time moves on and Muskaan faces tragedy and grief when her father is killed in a plane accident. This story is told from two perspectives in two parts. The first section is told from Muskaan’s mother’s POV while the second is told from Muskaan’s POV. This gives us excellent insight into the two POVs from very different angles which added a lot of depth to the story. The reader both understands easily the mother’s love and want to understand how her daughter is feeling and Muskaan’s feelings of wanting her mother to understand her feelings as well as the obstacles she faces in expressing her feelings.
The story is immensely moving. Readers watch as Muskaan finally gets accepted into a school after countless rejections. We find out that Muskaan is a budding writer with a lot of talent and that she wants to go for a writing competition in her school. But there is one obstacle standing in her way: the competition requires the story to be read out. But thankfully help is at hand when Muskaan eventually makes a friend in Sanaya who agrees to read out Muskaan’s story for the competition.
I think the plot of this book is brilliant and the author writes it stunningly. There is so much packed into this story. Sometimes with shorter reads, it is more difficult to get all the required information into a story to really bring the reader on the journeys of the main character and the other characters. But Ganesh has did an excellent job here.
There is many important themes covered here including bullying, grief and the prejudice of society and the writer writes each of these topics with great authenticity. She paints a brilliantly human story with great background and a character who has her insecurities but who is a fighter and by the end of the story, the reader knows she will do very well in life despite the fact that there is many who want to knock her down and make her feel like she won’t succeed. Muskaan is my favourite character in the book. She has moments of feeling like she can’t succeed and that the non-supporters are right but she always battles back with an inner strength. She is a character who is very easy to relate to. I just wish I had half Muskaan’s writing talent!
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