Past, Present & Future - What Mina Did by Geeta Menon
1998. Twenty-two-year-old Mina is moving to the US from Bangalore to begin a new life with her husband. Then there’s a horrific murder and her life is turned upside down. Mina’s best friend Neelu helps her out of the abyss.
Mina gradually leaves her past behind and settles into a new life in the US. Years later, she is forced to return to India and is confronted by the demons from her past. In her fragile mental state, she is unable to support Neelu in her time of need.
Their friendship hits rock bottom. Mina goes back to the US and faces further hurdles, this time on the work front. She tries to make amends with Neelu, but their friendship ends with Neelu accusing Mina of something unimaginable
related to the murder.
Something, that deep down, Mina knows is true...
Will Mina redeem herself? Will the people she loves forgive her for what she did?
Alternating between flashbacks and the present day, What Mina Did explores how one betrayal can have catastrophic consequences, while delving into the complex bonds that link mothers and daughters, and best friends.
A single betrayal can cost you everything...
These lines from the blurb are enough to catch a reader's attention and tempt them to read this book. I was tempted and managed to finish reading it in two and a half hours flat without any interruptions.
With a haunting cover and an enigmatic blurb, this book is surely one that piques a lot of interest for a reader. However, it sadly doesn't live upto the promise. If there is one word I could use to describe this book then it has to be 'dated'. For some reason, the story is set in 2002 and the whole events the follow make you want to understand why 2002 but unfortunately there is no such answer till the end of the book.
The overall premise of the book is extremely enticing and the beginning can easily be called hooker. It hooks the reader and captivates your attention to keep turning the pages. Albeit, that joy is short lived as that hook stays on only till the fourth or max the fifth chapter after which the story takes some bizarre turns leaving a reader perplexed.At some point in the book I felt the twists and turns were unnecessary. They felt forced and to an extent, added solely to bring in some thrill which did not happen. In trying to be an murder mystery or a suspense thriller, it ends up being neither. Rather it becomes a story on marriages, especially arranged marriages in the Indian context and their expectations and demands from an individual. The friendship between the two primary characters has been explored well, however it leaves out a lot to a reader's interpretation without dwelling into much details.
The book has a powerful premise and there is no doubt about it. The execution is a huge let down with its cardboard cut out characters and flat narrative. There are too many loopholes in the plot, leaving a reader high and dry. One thing that is highly commendable about this story is the scope it had to talk about PTSD, depression, postpartum depression, suicide and other such mental health issues apart from the conservative practices of Indian society. The author however is not able to do complete justice to this and exploit this opportunity to the maximum. What starts as a brilliant story ends up being a disappointing read almost half way through the novel.
The narrative could have been tighter and editing could have been crispier. Somewhere long after finishing novel I was left wondering about the title - the story to be honest (No spoilers here!) is not entirely about 'What Mina Did' . It is also about a lot of other secondary characters , especially her best friend Neelu. Though Mina does have a role to play in her story as well, what she did isn't exactly the sole point of contention.
Despite it all, I would say it is a one time read, purely for the thrill of the plot line and the plethora of emotions it manages to evoke in a reader.
(P.S: I got the book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review)