Our preteen reviewer Aditi Amritesh reviews Our Nana Was a Nutcase, a book by Ranjit Lal.
‘Our Nana was a Nutcase’ by Ranjit Lal is a book I sceptically picked up a few months ago at a book fair, mainly because the cover looked interesting and the blurb sounded easygoing. I began reading the book and ended up glued till the last page before I could put it down.
The story this book tells is mostly fun and exciting with some serious moments. There is an even mix of a variety of events and emotions, keeping the reader engaged, while unexpected turning points add an element of surprise. These aspects of the writer’s style make the story appealing. The book’s strength lies in its amazing storyline and dynamic characters that readers will easily relate to. Each character has a well-etched personality and as I read the book I felt as though I know the characters personally (even though I’ve never met them)! Another interesting aspect of the writer’s craft is in the development of the characters. While their personalities don’t change drastically through the story, hidden elements of their nature become evident in their reactions to different situations. This also keeps the reader wondering about who’s going to do what next!
The story is about four young children living with their batty, ex-war surgeon grandfather, Nana. The story is set in a mountain district of India and told from the perspective of Nana’s oldest granddaughter, General Gosling (all the characters in this story are given unique nicknames, courtesy of Nana) as she reminisces about events from a few years ago and how she and her siblings came to live with Nana. Gosling’s younger siblings are Duckling, the rocket scientist (book lover and collector of vague objects) and the notorious twins Dingaling and Dumpling Pvt. Ltd., who are constantly in some sort of ‘business deal’ with their friends. Nana himself is a car lover who owns several incredibly rare and sought-after cars, most of them found abandoned in unknown places and later made dazzling again by Nana! All the kids love their amazing, nutty Nana loads. Nana mutually loves his grandkids and frequently takes them on fun treasure hunts and makes each day exciting. However, as the story progresses, Nana slowly grows more crazy and begins to slowly forget important things.
Gosling worries that Nana is affected with a brain disease. This causes the kids’ parents to plan to move Nana away to an old age home, much to the dismay of the children. The story moves on to describe the adventures of the children as they manoeuvre their parents to prevent Nana from leaving home. Do they succeed? Read the book to find out.
The choice of where the story is set, the heart-warming message the book carries and the incredibly realistic imagery leave a lasting impression on the reader and will make this book a favourite in any bookshelf or library. The techniques used in the development of moods and events in the story along with the thoughts and perspectives of the characters will show anybody that this author has written something wonderful. In a nutshell, this book with its creative and out-of-the-box characters, charming story and strong message has been an amazing reading experience for me. ‘Our Nana was a Nutcase’ by Ranjit Lal has become a personal favourite of mine and I look forward to reading more by this author.
I rate this book 4.7 out of 5 stars.