Book Review: Once Smitten, Twice Shy, Thrice Lucky by Sandeep Kothapalli

You know that satisfied feeling you get when you see 'The End' card in a feel-good movie? That's the feeling you get after reading this book. We know the characters, we feel for them, thanks to the little glimpses into their lives the author provides in between, and when we leave them, we feel sad that the book is already over and satisfied that all the characters had a bittersweet ending.

The plot is predictable from the title itself: the protagonist Varun talks about three relationships in his life. So, what's so new about it? Everybody falls in and out of love, several times in their lives. There's no need to write a book about it. But Varun is no ordinary guy. He's an academic topper and an emotional sissy, in his own words. He cracks CAT and makes it into IIMA, the top business school, but that doesn't stop him from failing miserably in love. If Varun had let his love failure consume his life, we wouldn't be reading a book about him. He moves on from his past relationships, takes a courageous decision of going into journalism after doing MBA and falls in love again, this time with the love of his life. And the story doesn't stop here. We see him risking his life to see his wife truly and completely happy. We see a loving brother, a responsible son, a true friend, a good citizen, and a supporting husband in Varun. When I say Varun moves on from his past relationships, he doesn't hate them, or burn their photos like they do in the movies, but accepts his past and remains friends with them. Now that's truly unique and admirable.

The book shouldn't be read in a hurry to finish. Take your time, read it slowly, and you can see the way the author connects several subplots into a big plot. You travel down the memory lane, especially if you can relate to the time frame of the book, and you remember how girls used to swoon over Hrithik, and how Yahoo messenger used to be the only option to chat, and emails were still a novelty, and how watching that first movie on the IMAX screen was an unbelievable experience.

We catch glimpses of the lives of Vishu, Nancy, Lahari, Sasha, Rekha, Satish and understand how love affected their lives. They are all ordinary human beings, they make their choices, sometimes wrong, and their lives inevitably change because of their choices.We can draw inspiration from some characters: for instance from Nancy, how she bravely accepts her unacceptable fate, from Lahari, who I think faces ups and downs in the most ideal way, and from Sasha, who, being a little girl, faces her death courageously, and from Rekha and Satish, who stand up to their orthodox parents and finally win in their love.

The plots meanders at some places, but catches up in some other places, but keeps the audience engaged throughout. I don't want to reveal too much of plot here. There are some great themes and characters in the book if you think deeply about it. Admittedly, it's a bit lengthy book, which takes time to finish. But pick it up if you want to read a contemporary romance without boring yourself with the cheesy bits. It's a debut book by the author, and I'm sure I can expect more wonderful reads in future. My rating 4/5.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"I'm not only married to Lahari, but also to everything about her Past, Present and Future"

"When in doubt, listen to your heart, always!'

"You can't clap with a single hand. The same goes with relationships. You can't blame the other for a relationship gone awry."

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