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The Gymnast - A Thought-Provoking Journey

Delving into the lives of common men

One of the best assets readers can gain from books is empathy. The beauty of learning more about people is by walking in their shoes. Sometimes even without any knowledge of what they are going through or who they are.

The Gymnast - A thought-provoking journey

With these thoughts in mind, I picked up The Gymnast by Sanjay Chandra recently. It lit a spotlight on the world of sports that I was quite ignorant of. It brought to the forefront various struggles, especially for underrepresented sports like gymnastics. The characters were well-fleshed out and the story was simple to read while still packing a punch.

It was intriguing owing to the various concepts discussed. Substance abuse and how kids can tackle it was handled well. Narrations of the protagonist persevering to become a world-class gymnast or even the life of street performers and the poor.

“Her failure did not deter her. She started practicing inside her house and even on the fields at the back. She had liked her view of the outside world walking on the boundary wall and the cartwheeling thing. She understood from her experience that the elders always slept for some time in the afternoon after their lunch. She chose that time for her practice”.

An essence of life story

The story was inspirational and shall be for young adults and children who wish to pursue their dreams. Gymnastics lacks structure and resources to learn. This makes it hard for the protagonist to achieve her goal. The reader ends up rooting for her wholeheartedly!

The author has shown us the essence of the lives of such people with much depth. It narrates how the protagonist carved a path for herself to reach her goals.

“Undeterred by the crisis brewing in her family life, Roshni continued to work towards her goal-Olympics 2028. The media had already started predicting a bright future for the rising junior star. Geeta and Madhu were worried that such media attention may go to her head. Many young athletes had stumbled just when they were poised for the bigger things in life.”

The research is immaculate and the message is delivered in a poetic style with clear communication. After reading this rags-to-riches story, I was begging for much more in this genre! It made me order Sanjay Chandra’s previous release, The Life and Times of a Common Man.

Another book of beauty

After reading Roshni’s story in The Gymnast, my heart was full and I wished to learn more about the lives of other people. But the next book by the same author was not exactly about an underrepresented part of society.

On the contrary, it was the situation faced by so many of us for ages. This book spoke about a boy born in a middle-class family in India in the late fifties. His parents force him to take a path for the life they want him to live.

He follows the direction they lead him, but he fails to find purpose. This makes him realize his path and dreams which he chooses to follow. Can he find his destiny and realize it in time to achieve it?

Intellectual and unique

This book also had fleshed-out relatable characters. It is the life of any engineering graduate or student who isn’t satisfied with the life their parents have chosen for them.

I pursued the Fine Arts and was never subjected to such family pressure. Yet, I found myself relating to plenty of scenes described and the internal dialogue of the protagonist. It made me more empathetic while speaking to friends who were subjected to such circumstances.

The author has described scenes well and the readers join the protagonist on a journey of self-discovery. It was intellectual yet close to home which any reader can understand in simple and poignant language.

Final thoughts

Both books brought me closer to people whom I have never been with firsthand. While the first book gave voices to various characters, the second one spoke about any human’s internal conflicts.

The perspectives were fresh and relatable for any reader - even beginners who wish to start reading something simple. Both books are raw and honest despite being sensitive to the topics discussed. They are inspiring and act as the subtle sign young adults need to pursue their dreams.

Do pick them up if you love feel-good books about relatable characters. If you love a strong plot with characters you root for from page 1. And if you are looking for a good book that you will carry with you for life!

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