12 August 2008

Gifted (Nikita Lalwani)

Available at all good bookstores, courtesy of Penguin Books South Africa

I'm a little freaked out by those popular semi-scathing documentaries on the paranormal genius kids who compete in spelling bees - but more so, by the pushy, scary Nazi-parents who always seem to feature so prominently and so loudly.

Nonetheless, I really got into
Gifted, with its troubled, lonely adolescent protagonist, the maths prodigy Rumika, who stresses herself out so much that she becomes addicted to eating cumin seeds. Yes, really. Raw. More than 100 grams a day.

After writing her A-levels at 14, she's accepted at Oxford, and that's when things go horribly wrong. Because teenage angst, nasty-father-induced pain, horny twenty-something hotties and Ivy League pressure just don't gel when you're 14.

So Rumika runs away.

This little book made me deeply grateful that I was classroom clever in my early teens, but nowhere near clever enough to be really different. After all, it's hard enough to be a teenager without having to be different.

Only one problem with Gifted, really: It's so similar in vein (English setting, Indian cultural dislocation, prodigy plot) to others out there that I forgot I'd read it, started it two weeks after finishing it the first time and only realised after half an hour why the storyline seemed like an old friend.


No comments: