Oct 29

Part Star Part Dust by L. M. Valiram – Book Review

Part-Star-Part-Dust-ReviewThis book. I don’t even know where to begin. But I do know that trying to capture how this book made me feel in a few words or paragraphs even, seems like a daunting task. Because after completing this book, I was kind of an emotional wreck, and I had to take some time to sort through my thoughts, to decide how I really felt about this book.

It was even more challenging because I was experiencing a lot of contradictory feelings. On one hand this book hooked me from the very first page, and kept me interested till the very end, but on the other hand, when it did reach there, it left me reeling, and without closure. Though it’s not even that simple, so I’ll elaborate more on this later, towards the end.

For now, let me back up a bit, and tell you what this book is about.

Part Star Part Dust 

Part Star Part Dust follows the lives of 3 central characters  – a monk, a widow, and a millionaire.

There is Radha, who was abandoned on the roadside as an infant, but eventually got adopted into a loving family, who doted on her. Yet she could never shake off the feeling of emptiness within her, and seeks answers as to why.

Then there is Mira, whom we meet on the day she is about to get married to a man she barely knows, and we follow her journey through the various joys and struggles of marriage, motherhood & life.

Finally, there is Gaurav, whose story begins not unlike many young educated guys, who want to carve out a life for themselves, that is full of happiness & prosperity. But in Gaurav’s  case, he could only pick one – either happiness or prosperity, not both.

The 3 stories are told separately, one at a time, and they span great time periods – we see Radha grow from an infant to her early 30s; Mira goes all the way from 16 to  her 60s; and Gaurav from his early 20s to mid 40s.  Of-course the author skips some life events, but chronicles the milestones and the major decision points of the character’s lives.

Also, each character is on the fringe of the other character’s life, without ever crossing paths in a significant way,  until one ill fated plane ride brings them and their destinies together.

Things I Loved

This is a relatively long list, as I loved many things about this book.

To begin with, the prose is evocative & mesmerizing at the same time.

I loved how the author wove everyday details into the story in a way that was organic and interesting at the same time. It grounded the characters, made them seem more real and relatable, without ever making the details seem dreary.

I also enjoyed how seamlessly the 3 stories were integrated. When I was reading Radha’s story, there were glimpses of Mira & Gaurav’s lives too, and this was true of the other stories as well.

There were also wonderful nuggets of wisdom and philosophy sprinkled all through the book, though I must say that this I kind of expected, as after-all it was narrated by the very wise, and all knowing ‘Time’.

But I think the thing that really spoke to me the most was the dominant theme of this book – which addresses some fundamental questions that we have all possibly pondered over at some point of time in our lives, and they are – How big a role does fate play in our lives? Is there such a thing called destiny? Or do we completely dictate the course of our lives through our choices?

I personally feel that our lives are a complicated combination of both things – some parts controlled by fate, and some guided by our choices, but it was still interesting to see how fate & choices played a role in the lives of Radha, Mira & Gaurav.

The one thing I am conflicted on

As I mentioned before, the one thing I am conflicted on is how these stories wrapped up.

And I can’t really explain a whole lot without giving away spoilers, which I don’t want to do. So let me just say that, I would have liked more closure, but that is just a personal preference, as I am sure many folks would be able to make peace with how things ended.

I say this because even though I am big on getting closure, I myself go back and forth with how I feel about the ending. Yes, the climax made me question the point of it all, but the more I thought about it, the more this ending seemed to make sense.

This book, in many ways, was a reflection of reality, and real life doesn’t always (if ever) come wrapped up in neat little boxes, compartmentalized optimally for immediate consumption.

Life is often messy, and complicated, and we may never find the answers to all the questions that we seek answers for, but it is still worth living. In the same way, this book may or may not give you the closure you seek when you finish it, but it is still worth reading.

All in All

It was an impressive debut effort, and I definitely look forward to reading more from the author.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Links: Part Star Part Dust (Amazon) | Part Star Part Dust (Goodreads)

That’s all from my end, folks. I would love to hear from you guys. Have you read this book? Do you read books that chronicle the lives of (fictional) people? I typically don’t pick such books up, because I worry I might not find them interesting enough. But I guess that is just a mental block, because I’ve loved many books in the past too that are some kind of fictional memoir.


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  1. Seems like an interesting n intriguing read. Adding it to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing.
    Tarang Sinha recently posted…The Shadow On The StairsMy Profile

  2. I loved how you mixed philosophical thoughts with the book review. It gives an idea on what the readers can expect from the book. Always enjoy reading your book reviews.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…10 years later, 20 Kg heavierMy Profile

  3. Not read this book. But a 4 star from you, surely it’s going to be worth a read.

  4. Like you, I also do not pick up similar books for the same reason as yours. Stories without closures leave numerous questions on my mind, the answers to which have to come from within and many times there are no answers. Going by your review, this book looks like interesting and thought-provoking and certainly not the happy types, I may want to pick this up to read. The title, I am sure, will remain with me.
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…Weight – the gains and losses #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  5. This sounds like a really compelling read! Only you can make a review so interesting and full of heart Shantala! Like you, I like my books to have proper ending/closure but I guess leaving stories open-ended leaves more scope for imagination, speculation on what should have or could have happened. I believe therein lies the power of a good writer, one who makes you wonder and ponder even after you’ve read the book fully. Brilliant review!

  6. Aeeey stop adding to my list of books-I-have-to-read-now-or-I’ll-die!!

    I always wonder how good writers always integrate different plot lines so seamlessly… it’s an art, I tell you.

  7. This sounds like an emotionally charged read. I quite like the title of the book. Thanks for the detailed review, Shantala.

  8. Four stars sound good. This one seems like worth read except, I do like closure in a book. I absolutely hate to be left hanging. That said, I’d still like to pick up this one.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Slowing downMy Profile

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