Author: Suyash Dasgupta
Publisher: AF PRESS (Academic Foundation)
Type: Paperback with QR codes to listen to the rap songs for a multisensory experience
Age Group: 10+ years (mentions of topics on mental health; physical, emotional and substance abuse – hence recommended for emotionally mature readers)
Posting this review on behalf of my 14 year old daughter, Sonimrin Shimray, an avid reader and an advanced reader.
“I always thought my Dad didn’t have a heart,
Like if the Tin Man from Oz was actually the devil
So, is there a point, then, in checking for a pulse?
I guess he had to have a heart,
Because if he didn’t,
These lines simply set the mood for the debut novel, ‘Chosen’ written by Suyash Dasgupta. The young writer wrote the story with the intent of tackling issues not very commonly conversed about but more explicitly shining light on, to quote, “the less spoken aspects of male mental health.”
Meet Mason, a young American schoolboy living in a monotonous village of Roscommon, Michigan. Never heard of this place, have you? Well life isn’t really enthralling here like New York with its glittering skyscrapers piercing through the sky or like Los Angeles with its sensational music festivals on sun kissed beaches.
Mason is the ‘bully’ that everybody has crossed paths with at some point in their life. The ‘bully’ who projects his anger and frustration through violence. People are terrified of him and avoid his presence at all costs. But some unfortunate souls get caught in the net of Mason’s “morning workout”.
When Mason comes home, he’s a scared little mouse running away from the cat – father. Out of the blue his father passes away. His life starts reshaping on God’s potter’s wheel without two hurtling fists coming at his face, until one day, following the father’s death; he discovers his father’s unexpected past.
I’m sure you have come across characters in books singing original songs. In my personal experience, I always wondered what the melody would sound like, what kind of voice the character embodies and all this time my questions remained unanswered. Suyash Dasgupta has tackled this very problem and successfully found an idiosyncratic solution. He did not leave the readers wondering but introduced to the readers the two Hip- Hop inspired tracks in QR codes to be able to hear every beat behind those hard hitting lyrics. Produced and sung by the author himself, though canonically by Mason’s father, it made me realise that the author is better off writing than rapping.
This unique method (touted a ‘multisensory experience’) allows readers to also discover the events which lead up to what made Mason’s dad, the way he was.
Honestly speaking, I didn’t have high hopes for the book but it went beyond my expectations. I like the part when the author used the structure of a menu meal course (appetizer, main, dessert) to describe the parallels between Jordan, who is a quintessential good Christian boy with a perfect life, and Mason’s abused-torn life.
As we partake of the 3 course meal, the contrast between the way their parents treat them unfolds.
Mason’s journey is poignantly written in an easy to understand language yet hard hitting with a sense of sentiment underlying it. The author explores teenage mental health in an impeccable manner through spoken poetry and the hidden symphonies of rap.
Though the author claims to have Jack Harlow as a source of inspiration for the musical tracks, I thought it was more in groove with Kendrick Lamar with the metaphors. I enjoyed this book and I recommend this for tweens and above since there are obvious mentions of topics on mental health; physical, emotional and substance abuse which may require a slightly more mature mind.
Apparently with what I have researched, Suyash is the first author to write a book in this format and I keep my fingers crossed that such a book in this format would be popularised in the market. It’s not only quirky but also creatively engaging as a first step for people who aren’t into reading. Till then, I look forward to what this young mind has to present to the world in his future works.
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