March 8, 2014

Book Review - Sorting Out Sid by Yashodhara Lal

Title: Sorting Out Sid
Author: Yashodhara Lal
Publisher: Harper Collins
Reviewed for: Indiblogger and Harper Collins

To be honest, the synopsis of Sorting Out Sid wasn’t the most appealing. It sounded like just another coming-of-age-of-messed-up-dude story that we are all too familiar with.

But I’d absolutely loved her first book. So I thought “Why not? Let’s give it a shot”. So I did.

Sure, Sorting Out Sid, in its true essence, IS a coming-of-age story. And it’s not very different from the many others we’ve read. But it’s not the story that makes the book an enjoyable read. It’s how it’s written.

Sid (short for Siddharth, of course) is 36, works for a toilet cleaner manufacturer, is one of the most promising stars of the company, chugs beer like water, and is an over-all lovable guy. But behind all that, his 15-year old marriage is falling apart. He and his wife don’t talk anymore, and whenever they do, it is to fight. He has good friends, albeit slightly over-interfering ones. And his relationship with his parents isn’t exactly warm. He happens to meet Neha, single mom, artist, and there’s a spark. Is it anything more than that? Is it love? Can Sid and Neha move past their turbulent marriages and give each other a chance? Will Sid and his ex-wife be able to call it a day peacefully? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Sorting Out Sid is a good read, one of those books that you would pick up over a weekend and finish it in two days. It is well written in simplistic language, which I suppose is characteristic of the author, and that’s fine, because by now, I’ve come to realise that the mark of a good writer isn’t exactly the use of big words and literary language. The characters are well etched out, starting from Sid to his ex-wife Mandira to his friend Aditi, they all have their place in the story and add significantly to the story, instead of just walk-on parts.

I had initially found the character sketch of Sid to be rather clich├ęd, and was prepared to put up with an annoying hero who is lovable to everyone in spite of having no redeeming quality whatsoever (ala the protagonist from Shuddh Desi Romance. I wanted to shake that guy and slap the stupidity out of him- and out of the girls who keep falling for him for no discernible reason). But due credit has to be given to Yashodhara Lal for not overdoing it and creating a believable true-to-life character (no doubt inspired from real life / lives) who we all come across, or can identify a bit with.

The problem with having a hugely successful book as your debut novel is that it comes with the baggage of expectation. The only area where it fails in this department is the humour. I had found ‘Just Married, Please Excuse’ to be incredibly funny. SOS (Ah...NOW I get it! Clever) isn’t as funny, although it tries to be, sometimes a bit hard. The toilet jokes get a little redundant after a point, but Sid is one those who suffers from foot-in-the-mouth disease, so that provides quite a few opportunities for laughs.


On the whole, a well written book. It’s not going to change your life or give you any life-altering epiphanies. But it WILL make you smile and want to turn the page to know what happens next in Sid’s fucked up life, and whether he gets sorted out or not.

My rating - 3/5