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Beetashok Chatterjee’s The People Tree is a riveting read. This book is an anthology of fourteen stories revolving around people from different backgrounds and dealing with different situations. The author covers a wide spectrum of emotions, be it friendship, love, loss, survival, lust, deception, and greed.

The book takes you all over the world. The pulse of each place is captured perfectly, be it the dialects, the expressions, or the local culture. The reader travels to Aruba, Bangalore, Pune, and Mumbai, among other places. The stories are fresh and based on unconventional premises. Some of them catch you unawares with their brilliant twists and turns.

How does a dictionary save someone’s life? Why is a stranger interested in a vintage car? What happens when an Indian gets lost in London? What would you do if you were disabled and trapped on the sixty-second floor and the only way to escape was the stairs? 

My top three stories include The Little Oxford Dictionary, Ground Zero, and Come Home. The Oxford dictionary is the first story of the anthology. It has a twist that left me gaping. Something in the plot seemed inconsequential yet emerged as the unexpected hero of this piece.

Ground Zero left a lump in my throat. Based on the twin tower collapse, it triggered memories of an infamous episode of the past and its aftermath.

Come Home is a story that every mother would resonate with and perhaps shed a tear or two. Do we give enough space to our children and allow them to blossom into their persons, or do we smother them by being over-protective? This story is a coming-of-age narrative for the daughter and a letting-go story for the mother.

The author’s writing is bold. His plots include a Hindu girl fighting for justice for her Muslim lover, a woman standing up to her parents for her freedom, and a same-sex relationship between two aging women. There is no fuss or frills. Things are stated as is, and that leaves a more significant impact on the reader.

The author is a storyteller par excellence-his characters engross the reader as they navigate through their slice-of-life situations. These are the people you might meet every day. These characters are flawed, but that makes them endearing and real. What if the elderly man you greeted had a murky past? Or the man you passed by was a serial killer? Every person has a tale to tell- these are stories about us and them.

The People tree draws you into its comforting shade. Some of these stories will stay with you for a long time after reading.

I received this book through a Penmancy Giveaway.

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