Choices by Ruchira Khanna is a touching story set in a simple small town atmosphere and revolves around a small close knit family. That is the hallmark of the book. It is described in simple language and woven around the every day of the family of a jail warden. The descriptions are very real and the whole ambience feels quite like something you might be witnessing from close by.
There are a few features which are particular to the book.
First, it is written in the present tense. It was a first for me as a reader and I felt quite disorientated initially but the author managed to pull it off.
Second, there are several povs going around in the book. This also requires some getting used to.
Third, there isn’t any main character in the book.
The last one bothered me a bit. I think the author started off by getting to know her characters and gradually gained the insight into her story. You can tell this was just straight from the heart. The downside of this is the reader has to make more effort in grasping the theme. Just like you can’t take the cake straight out of the oven and serve it, so also the story cannot be dished without alteration. It has to be allowed to cool, be cut and layered and decorated with attractive icing before readers can relish it. If the author had worked out her main character and the theme beforehand we need not have gone from Mateo to Albert and then to Leonardo. The theme and the title also could have been echoed better by showing hints of Leonardo’s interest in his father’s job earlier in the book.
However, you cannot fail to be touched by the story. The author has depicted small moments in the families with ease yet leaving an indelible imprint on the reader’s mind. Be it a birth, an injury to their son, loss or the dilemma of a loved one, she has drawn well the support framework of family at each new situation these people face.