Book: The Diary on the Fifth Floor
Author: Raisha Lalwani
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Price: Rs. 295
Troubled by certain events, Savannah Khanna starts to pen down her thoughts in a diary. As her problems start intensifying, she decides to consult a psychiatrist, Dr Rama Berry. Lost and confused, she gives her diary to Dr Berry. The rest of the story unveils through Savannah’s diary entries and her interactions with the doctor.
The book has a very intriguing blurb, which was the sole reason why I picked it up. You know the kind of books whose blurb is shrouded in mystery and gives you a feeling that you are about to read a great thriller? The Diary on the Fifth Floor falls into that family, and that is exactly what it fails to deliver. The only intriguing part in the book is perhaps the blurb.
The book did have some elements of mystery at the very beginning that did not let me put the book down. Despite the weak dialogues between the characters and the teenage level diary entries, I still had hope in the book; I was eagerly waiting for some major turn of events, but none came. While narrating a story through diary entries is nothing new (cue: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, duh), the diary entries, in this case, told a different story each time; it was more of a collection of short stories. While some of these stories were instances from Savannah’s life, others were experiences of people she knew. A few of these stories were good– they evoked emotions and had a twist at the end.
But, as a whole, the book did not make sense to me. First of all, both Savannah’s and Dr Berry’s characters were poorly constructed. Secondly, the author has not done enough research about psychiatrists. For a doctor who is portrayed as one of the best in the profession, Dr Berry’s actions were not doctor like at all. For example, when a troubled patient comes to a psychiatrist and gives her diary to understand her situation better, who would say things like “You write so well,” instead of providing her medical help?
Even though the story failed in all regards, the book would have received a higher rating if the writing was good. But there is nothing commendable about Raisha Lalwani’s writing. Poorly constructed dialogues and amateur diary entries disappointed me further. The climax was worse, because, like the entire story, the ending also failed to make sense to me. There were unnecessary events towards the end and I am still not sure what the author was trying to say through the climax.
The Diary on the Fifth Floor by Raisha Lalwani is a poorly constructed, badly written form of an idea that may have worked better at the hands of a more talented writer. If the book had undergone some serious editing, it may still have worked. If you are someone who has read a fair number of books, I would not recommend this one at all.
PS: I received a copy of the book from the publishers in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.