21 July 2021 | By: Writing Buddha

The Granddaughter Project by Shaheen Chishti (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!

1948th BLOG POST

26th Book of 2021

There are few books which can move you emotionally as well as psychologically. I am not talking about just making you cry and leaving an impact through the over-eruption of emotions. I mean to say that they carry such situations and characters which insists you to put yourself into their place and think of what you could have done- when you find no better idea than what is already being told in the story, you get submerged in the story and give yourself to it completely. I had the similar experience with reading Shaheen Chishti’s debut book named “The Granddaughter Project” which is of around 264 pages. It’s a very nice package in terms of publishing quality – in a hardcover format with a very beautiful cover jacket having a very intense and appealing cover page. And rest, author further makes this book a very satisfactory experience overall.


The story speaks of how a girl gets a letter from her grandmother which covers all the details about her life which leads in making the girl understand how women were treated during her grandmother’s era and how not much changed even when her mother got married. Her grandmother also gives her 2 more letters to handover it to random girls in different cities which are also written by their respective grandmothers. This irritates her boyfriend as he has to live away from his girlfriend until she is back after delivering the stupid letters to some random girls. The other two girls also get to know about their grandmother’s life in detail about which they didn’t know anything earlier. It makes them think about the women’s condition in those days. These letters make all the three girls take some important decision in their current life - learning from the experiences and hidden message their grandmothers are trying to tell them through their story.


The narrating style of author is very interesting where you will find a very great commanded words and sentences crafted which ensures you relate to every emotion and condition he is trying to tell. Chishti also ensures that the transition between the letter content and current story is rightly balanced so that none of the flow gets compromised. I liked this handling a lot as many authors fail to make a mark in such complex story-telling methodology. Though the subplot sounds little unrealistic that a girl travels so much just to deliver letters to random girls, but author ensures that it all sounds justified once he is telling the story in his writing style. You start trusting in everything he tells. I believe that’s what the USP of his uniqueness is.


The story ends up telling the conditions of women in all the generations which makes us think about how oppressed they have been. Every woman reading this will be able to relate it with themselves or their mother whom they have seen closely doing nothing else except satisfying their respective husbands and still getting ill-treated for a small mistake. Similarly, any girl of this era will understand how things have got better now with more friendly and feminist men around them but still they will get alarmed about something which is still not going the way it should be. This book is such thought-provoking, futuristic, and eye-opening.


While reading, I thought so much about how my mother is being treated and I felt that yes, women, despite of gender equality discussions are still not getting the same respect they need to get for what they are. The patriarchy and the male ego are still killing the emotions, willpower and life of many women and girls. I, as a man, had to question myself if I am doing well with the relationships I have with females in my life. This is the power Shaheen’s writing has upon you. Even after being a man, you will question your attitude and try to change yourself immediately.


The book talks about many factors on how Bengal famine in 1943 impacted the whole place and how some women suffered because of it. We are acquainted with how people like landlords molested and misused women just because they had money to buy anything – even humans. Reading the encounters where men almost rapes women in pretext of providing some benefits and women must suffer it without raising their voice made me feel pit in my stomach. Similarly, in another story, we get to know of horrific stories which takes place during World War 2 where again, women are led into prostitution services and reading those accounts will make you go and hug a rape survivor and help her as much as possible. I just couldn’t imagine the kind of violence Jew women had to go through and author has written everything raw which makes you feel as if you are present in the camp and experiencing everything yourself. Scary!


The book is impactful, interesting, strong, women-oriented and what not. The way it does justice to its title is mind-blowing. The research of author to understand how the old era was and what exactly happened during those real historic events with sufferers is worth applauding. I only disliked the last Grandmother’s story because it was really nothing when compared to the first two stories. Also, I felt that the book could have been short by 30-40 pages as it feels stretchy beyond a point. Otherwise, this is going to be one of the remarkable books to be published this year. I am glad I picked it up. I give it 4.5 stars out of 5 and ask all the modern women as well as men to read this. It is going to change your perspective forever.






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