At the crux of Beautiful world, where are you lies a story of two friends and in between the pages, Sally Rooney breathes life. In over 300 pages Rooney takes us through a series of dramatic events that shake and shape Alice and Eileen’s life.

Presented with an unconventional narrative that sucks you in from the word go, this book follows the life of two friends Alice and Eileen. Alice is a successful and rich author; Eileen, on the other hand works for a literary magazine. Both have been friends since their childhood. Alice moved countries owing to her occupation whereas Eileen remained a church mouse, huddled in Dublin.

For years they have been writing to each other on emails but there’s a lot to say and lay bare that cannot happen over a written word. And so when they finally get together we see old wounds been scratched. “You had other friends, but I only had you,” we hear one of them say through the sobs and hiccups. All in all the book consists mostly of letters exchanged between two friends. And you realize that some friends walk out of our lives never to return but some who do take efforts to stay in touch may or may not be with you in your trying times because they too have a battle to fight, its only normal that we be empathetic with them. Ofcourse, the book doesn’t get preachy about it but leaves behind these nuggets within you to mull over.

There’s a lot that is spoken about in this book. It talks about relationships, sex, friendship and love. But more than that you see a ghost of mental illness lurking in between the pages. This ghost makes itself prominent time and again. And definitely leaves you dumbstruck.

“What if I’m the one who can’t let myself be happy? Because I’m scared, or I prefer  to wallow in self-pity, or I don’t believe I deserve good things, or some other reason. Whenever something good happens to me I always find myself thinking: I wonder how long it will be until this turns out badly.”

The book speaks about the tenacious mundane life. It has many biblical references peppered throughout. It gets spiritual. It gets intense. It gets dramatic. And it shows us two contrasting relationships, modern yes but also quite complicated and immature. And then when you think of it aren’t all relationships that way? Somewhat modern yet complicated and immature. And then you read through the philosophies about life and beauty and religion and sexuality that author sows in the narrative. You may or may not agree with these ideas but those are assertive and they stay.

To sum up, though a tad off beat, Alice and Eileen have a significant impact on the readers.

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Publisher – Penguin India

Huge thanks to LibroFM as well for an audio ARC of this book.

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