ARC Review: The Tree With A Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta

If the criminal was once a saint and the saint was once a criminal, then who is a criminal and who is a saint?

Inspired by true events, this riveting narrative traces the lives of Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar, three childhood friends who grow up in an atmosphere of peace and amity in Srinagar, Kashmir, until the night of 20 January 1990 changes it all.

While Deewan is forced to flee from his home, Safeena’s mother becomes ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal has to embrace a wretched life of poverty and fear. The place they called paradise becomes a battleground and their friendship struggles when fate forces them to choose sides against their will.

Twenty years later destiny brings them to a crossroads again, when they no longer know what is right and what is wrong. While both compassion and injustice have the power to transform lives, will the three friends now choose to become sinful criminals or pacifist saints?The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a universal story of cultures, belongingness, revenge and atonement. The stylized layered format, fast-paced narration and suspenseful storytelling makes for a powerful, gripping read.

Today is India’s Independence Day – I am a proud Indian; I have always been and I always will be – but I am deliberate in my choice of posting this review on today of all days.

I have never been a human who understood the reason behind religion – not to say I don’t believe in Karma (’cause I actually do!); but I have never really understood the point of deities who want you to behave in certain way or want you to spend some amount of money (even if you don’t have any) to please them – so when my basic foundation is shaky, I have never understood the point behind humans killing for religion.

It sounds apathetic sure, but beyond being hurt or sympathetic that humans are loosing their lives due to meaningless war, a war they aren’t even fighting and yet dying for it – this seems removed from my life. And boy did this book shake my belief!

If the criminal was once a saint and the saint was once a criminal, then who is a criminal and who is a saint?

First line of the blurb – the main reason I picked this book for review and even I knew that going in that there was a high chance that it could break my heart into million pieces but I did not expect it to destroy me!

The author says that this book is based on a true story – and with every word I went more deep into book I kept hoping, praying that that he has fibbed a bit – because honestly my cold dead apathetic heart would be able to handle that bit of honesty.

Kashmir is a sensitive topic for us Indians; but this book makes me realise that we Indians are also hypocritical about the plight of Kashmiris – we treat that region and it’s people as they are possessions; that they should be proud to be a part of our country  but we never understand the kind of atrocity that these people face ever day – the psychological pressure and torture that they go through to try and preserve their identity.

We turn a blind a eye to their thoughts, opinions and beliefs of the very people who face those circumstances every second of every day. And isn’t that  a bit presumptuous of us?

I know I haven’t talked much about the plot – but this is a book that a reader needs to read themselves – it is raw, heart breaking true story about three human beings living and surviving in circumstances that breaks them in ways that it ends up impossible not to pity! 

The writing is fast paced and flows easily; but it did take me a while to get into the story (though it could have something to do with my reading slump) – the way the author showed the transition from the innocence of childhood to the pain and betrayal of adulthood in the valley, not just destroys my heart in pieces, but it put a mark on my soul, that I honestly do not think will ever fade away!

For Indian readers, on the day of this Independence Celebrations, take a moment to put this book on your reading list  – for I think it is high time to get your hands on a book that will open your eyes, prick your consciousness and shatter your illusions about a place or people that we all have illusions about, but have never taken the time to learn the truth!

:star: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ .5

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