From the book blurb
Once upon a time, there was a Bihari boy called Madhav. He fell in love with a rich girl from Delhi called Riya. Madhav didnt speak English well. Riya did. Madhav wanted a relationship. Riya didnt. Riya just wanted friendship. Madhav didnt. Riya suggested a compromise. She agreed to be his half-girlfriend.
From the author of the blockbuster novels Five Point Someone, One Night at the Call Center, The 3 Mistakes of My Life, 2 States and Revolution 2020 comes a simple and beautiful love story that will touch your heart and inspire you to chase your dreams.
Chetan Bhagat writes op-ed columns for English and Hindi newspapers, including Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar, focusing on youth and issues based on national development. Bhagat is also a motivational speaker and has given talks in leading MNCs and other institutions. He quit his international investment banking career in 2009, to devote his entire time to writing.
In 2008, The New York Times called Bhagat "the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history". Bhagat, a graduate of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad, is seen more as a youth icon than as an author.
Madhav Jha, six feet one inch tall, basketball player, with almost no confidence to speak good English and insanely in love!
Riya Somani, five feet nine inches tall, plays basketball and guitar, loves to sing, immensely rich and completely confused.
What I think
To begin with, the cover page is interesting. It has skyscrapers in first half and Hindi alphabets in the second which implicitly captures the essence of the story – the distinction between English speaking and the others. Also, the big gap between developed countries and ours. The title is different and makes us wonder what it means. The summary, further, trickles the anxiety of readers.
I have to mention this. The author has maintained his obsession to include numbers in the titles. For a quick recap 5 Point someone, 1 Night at Call Centre, 3 Mistakes of My Life, 2 States and now, ½ Girlfriend.
The dedication is interesting. I don’t want to give spoilers. But, please pay attention to the third line! I started enjoying his writing from right acknowledgement. Prologue followed and then, the story. The narrative is vivid and lucid. It is very descriptive right from the dresses they wear to the surroundings. The dialogs are nice and flows with an ease.
The story travels across New Delhi, Dumraon village in Bihar and New York City. Each of these places are captured so nicely that they come alive in front of you.
The story has a few predictable turns and some unexpected twists. There are some clichéd moments and a few that are different. The story is told from Madhav’s point of view and therefore, we empathize with him. His love, restlessness, lust, apprehensions, confidence, determination and the insanity presents him as a commoner. Yes, he is no hero. He is no great. He is flawed. But, he is not bad either. He is just a human with an overflow of emotions and a man with hyper-active hormones. As far as Riya is concerned, she is stupid as a young girl like any other rich teenager. However, with passing years, she matures too.
Greater emphasis is made to education and sports. He has also touched upon several socially relevant points. I appreciate the author for the same. I don’t know (yet) if he can influence through his writing. But, I am sure that he can make us think (at least).
Above all, in spite of all the mixed reviews and criticisms I read about the book - I LOVED it. Chetan Bhagat is different. He is a trend-setter. He is a brand by himself. You can hate him and say that his writing is not great enough. But, he strikes a chord with the readers at a very personal level. And, I adore him for that.
The treatment of prologue and Epilogue reminded me of Three Mistakes of My life. Some of the instances in the book reminded me of Two States. Could be avoided.
The obsession on kisses and English could have been curtailed. It sounded too redundant.
The line spacing could have been more. It felt like too many lines are stuffed in one page. And also, the font could have a little bigger; or may be different.
Should you read it?
You will enjoy the time spent with Half Girlfriend.
It is very relatable. You will see yourself in more than one occasion.
Brace yourself to fall (insanely) in love again and feel Indian!!!