Book review of A Stick in the Dirt by Vidit Uppal

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A Stick in the Dirt


Immersive Experience


Saurabh’s birth is celebrated across the town of Konkur, where people rejoice in the arrival of the much-admired Vinod and Shashi Parashars’ first offspring. Soon, their neighbour’s 5-year-old daughter Vidya is entrusted with the responsibility of Saurabh’s daily wellbeing. They grow up together among the secluded trees, hills and narrow roads of the small town, spending much of their time in an abandoned graveyard they discover near their homes.But when Saurabh starts showing signs of trouble, their seemingly idyllic world begins to quickly unravel. As the incidents become more frequent and violent, he is brandished a pariah by the very people who had once held him aloft. Vidya, Shashi and Vinod’s struggle to come to terms with Saurabh’s impulses, becomes the uncomfortable thread that binds them together and leads them to re-evaluate their own lives and relationships.Traversing through the realms of guilt and solitude, A Stick in the Dirt attempts to grapple with the uncomfortable nature of the unknown and with what it means to be misunderstood by those closest to us.


A Stick in the Dirt by Vidit Uppal is a story of two families in a small-town of South India. The book came as a surprise, a good one, and I fell in love with it.

A new couple, Vinod and Shashi, moves to Konkur. Shashi gives birth to Saurabh not much later, and he is loved and cherished by the whole town. Vidya, the young girl next-door takes up the duty to take care of the new-born. Their friendship grows as years pass, but Saurabh starts behaving peculiarly. His actions become unpleasantly violent and people start turning their backs to the boy they once loved; calling him outright mad for his deeds; which leaves Vidya stricken with grief and anger.

The book had a lot to learn from. It was about friendships that go beyond everything. A Stick in the Dirt sheds light upon the trait of judging. How easily we judge anyone even when we know nothing about what they are going through. Or how we change our minds so fast, just because of a single action. How we never give a thought to the reason behind a certain act and just enjoy gossiping about it.

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It is also about family relations. It depicts how we make them so complicated and become entangled in our own spun webs. The plight of the child who witnesses his parents drifting apart; the condition of parents when they see their kid being neglected in the society, all of it is shown in an extremely raw way.

The book has multiple POVs. The characters are so very deep; I felt for them so hard. The role the society plays in our upbringing is starkly presented. The book has the South Indian essence to it. It is a melancholy story without a happy-ending, penned beautifully by the author. The language was easy and fluid. Considering it is Vidit Uppal’s debut work, I am blown away. He has so much more potential and I am looking forward to more of his works!

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