A good read to delve into the complex interplay of human emotions - Gin Soaked Boy by Sandeep Mathew
“Loved the high, forgot the low” is a line relentlessly echoing in my head since I finished the book. Gin Soaked Boy isn’t the kind of book that leaves you with a soft smile, a longing sigh and you move on to the next one. It stops you in your tracks and compels you to wonder about the what-ifs and contemplate the complexities of life. Sandeep Mathew has meticulously crafted a step-by-step storyline of how depression worms its way into one’s life, discarding all friendships, stealing innocent laughter, and dousing the inner spark of happiness.
Raj, a former prodigy who turns to alcohol for comfort, serves as a masterful vehicle for Sandeep Mathew's deft depiction of the stealthy development of depression. It’s an easy read where the book is separated into 12 chapters, each dealing with the 12 symptoms of depression. Divided into a first and second act, it seamlessly transitions between the present life and the flashbacks, allowing the readers to glimpse at the behind-the-scenes and wonder where it all fell apart.
“It’s not a race; you don’t have to get there before all the others. You just have to get there.” Thank you, Raj. You really hit the nail on the head with that one. These diary entries sometimes get too relatable, delving into the intricacies of the burnt-out gifted child, a dream to leave this mundane life to create something unique, a strong sense of individuality, and a genuine dislike for people.
The book fearlessly confronts societal themes, where a friend fakes a kidnapping narrative of not giving the exam to avoid parental pressure—a scenario where all of us felt called out. Thus, Sandeep has brought an element of authenticity to his narrative. There is an element of suspense delicately interwoven in the story. For all the fans of ‘Looking for Alaska’ who dreaded its “after” section, this is the perfect book to relive that apprehension. Each chapter pushes you closer to the edge of your seat and accelerates your heartbeat. And as the final chapter unfolds, you’re transfixed by the last poem, weaving dreams, and reality just out of reach.
However, the constant influx of new characters in the book, introduced and removed in each chapter was overwhelming and disrupted the pacing of the book. It also didn't give the author enough time to flesh out their character or for the reader to connect with them.
Raj's character growth in terms of maintaining a relationship was minimal. Throughout the book, there were moments where he stayed unfaithful to his many partners, which were addressed without nuance; no exploration was undertaken into the underlying rationale for these behaviors. The author missed an opportunity here to weave this dimension with the prevalent mental health issues.
Overall, Gin Soaked Boy is a good read to delve into the complex interplay of human emotions and how they affect everybody around us.