Title: Those Fallen Breadcrumbs
Author: Richa Kashyap
Publisher: Notion Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
First Publication: 2021
Book Summary: Those Fallen Breadcrumbs by Richa Kashyap
My chosen tears are better than your imposed smile,
Why don’t you let me alone to cover that extra mile?
This could be your own story written in the third person. Yes, this is a story that many of us can relate to, whether we are students, parents or working professionals. The characters and scenes in the story and the overall plot could seem familiar to many of us.
This is not a story that tells you that bad things happen to good people. This is a story of a group of engineering students, from radically different backgrounds, coming together and trying to fit the pieces in the puzzle called life. They try to turn around their lives and twist their fortunes to make everything fall into place.
Caged and chained by societal norms, they end up following the most traversed path. Those fallen breadcrumbs were the façade of the correct path, and they went on a crazy roller coaster ride of laughter, sorrow, fun, suspense and entertainment. And secrets too!
What secrets? Read on to find out!
Book Review: Those Fallen Breadcrumbs by Richa Kashyap
It’s always a strange feeling to see the words in your head written down on a piece of paper – typed, to be more accurate – by hands that were not your own. For me, ‘Those Fallen Breadcrumbs’ was like a pensive of thoughts; it’s as if Richa Kashyap snatched the phrases out of my mind and breathed life into them, creating characters who are not like me in the least, but at the same time, totally are.
‘Those Fallen Breadcrumbs’ by Richa Kashyap is a rare novel that approaches overachieving and the relentless hunt for the best colleges in a moderately interesting way. In the book, we follow the story of a group of engineering students with completely different backgrounds who come together in order to wrap themselves up in the puzzle of life. It is as if they are trying to make everything fit in place by turning around their lives and twisting their fortunes. They end up treading the most travelled road because of societal norms.
‘Those Fallen Breadcrumbs’ is a story of Akshay, an IIT aspirant, who appeared twice for the entrance exam but failed both times. When Akshay’s dreams to join IIT with his friends were crushed by his rank, he had thoughts of suicide. However, he managed to overcome that phase, his self-doubt made him very vulnerable. As Akshay struggles to understand what went wrong, he begins to question everything – the point of working hard, the expectations placed on him by his family, the purpose of life, his unquestioned assumption that he needs to excel at specific success signifiers in order to justify his existence. Soon he too got admitted in a college, though not as reputed as IITs, where he started studying engineering, made new friends and began his college life.
Author Richa Kashyap writes what she knows about. And she writes about it well. In this case, she writes about the insanely competitive process of getting admission to IITs. Author’s raw material is the young people who want to become undergraduate members of the IIT, and their parents who are prepared to mortgage their own lives to allow it. But her far more interesting subject is the characteristic customs and obsessions of the Indian middle class. Not the entire middle class population to be sure, but certainly an identifiable segment large enough to supply the applications to fill available IIT seats ten times over.
‘Those Fallen Breadcrumbs’ can be read as a commentary on the material culture of this part of bourgeois India. In fact, what is being pursued by the cast of characters in this book is clearly and entirely immaterial: expectations, expectations of parents, societies. Probably, Richa Kashyap has something far subtler in mind, the burden of which she places on Akshay, her protagonist, who progressively discovers how the process he is a key part of has consumed him.
Family, friendship, career, college and everything normal about the everyday life are in this book, thus, it seemed real, it felt real. The characters are pragmatic and their voices are plausible. From fierce rivalry, to family pressure and expectations, to economic hardships, unfair disadvantages and tragedies, the author gave her main character a lot to deal with. Some of the conversations got pretty surprisingly in-depth about meaning, purpose, and success, criticizing the idea that worth is dependent on achievement.
Richa Kashyap’s writing is effortless and playful (she sets up a situation for her characters so well that when time comes for the reveal, you have no idea what is about to happen). She is observant, empathic, and hopeful, writes effortlessly, and creates lovely and sympathetic, well-drawn characters. To me, this book did such a wonderful job of capturing “the world of engineering” that so many families get sucked into believing is the only world in relation to college, an elite world that consumes and seems really important until a person just simply decides to live in a different world for awhile. It’s a book that will have you laughing and shaking your head, and really enjoying what you did and didn’t have to go through. Highly recommended.