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Starry Starry Night by Nandita Basu

My take on the book:

When Kunal’s mother passed away suddenly, he is sent by his father to a boarding school in a hill station. Since his parents were previously separated and his father remarried and had his own family now, Kunal also preferred to stay away from his father. As it is mid-term, he could not be accommodated in the boy’s hostel and hence had to stay with Tara, his father’s cousin.

Tara conducted a special music program for the school and is currently preparing with the students who trained under her for an upcoming radio show. Tara struggled to complete the closing verses after her music partner and best friend Nysa passed away due to ill health. Will Kunal be able to adjust to a new place and new school while processing his grief? Will Tara be able to overcome the vacuum she felt due to loss of Nysa and be able to finish the song forms the rest of the story.

The author picks an extremely sensitive but important topic of grief, of losing our loved ones, whether it is a friend like Tara or a family member like Kunal. From explaining the various stages of grief, and how humans process them in general to how loss of one person can traumatize us, like how Tara starts seeing Death everywhere around her, the author showcases varied emotions with ease.

In addition to Death and grief, the author also touches on other important topics like mental health and how the society still perceives and treats mentally ill people, how young adults can quickly slip into wrong habits and become rebels due to lack of love and care. The story being narrated in the format of a graphic novel helps the reader be engrossed in the narrative quickly. I was myself so pulled into the story that I read the book a second time to appreciate the wonderful illustrations.

The author also highlights how art and creativity can help us navigate our grief, through the life of Tara and Kunal. I highly recommend this book for all adults, who are going through grief, not just because of losing a loved one but for any sad phase they may be going through. However, for young kids, I would recommend the parents to pick it up based on how sensitive their kids are to process Death and loss.

My rating: