Sneha Jaiswal transports you to the small town of Dakhinpur in ‘Bad Town Kids’ where you follow the coming of age of four close friends.
Jaiswal’s descriptions make you feel like you’re right there with Anita, Saira, Maadesh, and Mokshit, chatting away the afternoon by the lily pond. You become a part of their world, so unlike my own, but with so many similarities in children’s games, adult gossip, and family drama. Despite being so foreign to me, it still felt so familiar. I was inspired to spend my second reading session under the shade of a tree in my local park, not too far from the pond.
Jaiswal captures the complexity and confusion of growing up and leaving home, the characters’ lives intertwined with those they love. She explores the weight of expectations placed on young people by their immediate and wider family, their community, and by themselves. Secrets – often well meant, but always with consequences – are revealed throughout, the reader discovering the truth at the same time as the characters. The Bad Town Kids simultaneously grow apart and stay together as they explore what they want from life and discover what it has in store for them.
Jaiswal weaves in her skills as a poet, which fit naturally into the narrative. And another bonus was the extra attention given to the food in the book – such an important part of every day life, but so often overlooked!