The hero of Just a train ride away is a young boy called Santosh who lives with his mother in Mumbai. Santosh’s parents are divorced and his father lives in Kolkatta. In fact, that is all Santosh really knows about his father, though in his own mind he knows exactly what he is like!
The story moves from Mumbai to Kolkata as Santosh travels the distance alone by train to spend a holiday with his mother’s friend. Unknown to his mother, Santosh has a secret agenda in Kolkatta - to find his father! The experience is moving one, for both the reader and the protagonist. During the journey Santosh learns a lot about India and its many layers of existence. The experience slowly changes his attitude towards wealth, poverty and imported jeans and tee shirts. The sometimes irritating or painful aspects of modern India that Santosh experiences on his train journey are honestly presented, often quite humorously. The difficult theme of divorce as well as the pains of adolescence are also dealt with a refreshingly light touch.
The story moves briskly and carries forward the many interwoven themes effortlessly. A Train Ride Away is an interesting and well-written book that will be an enjoyable read for pre and early teens. A few small sketches illustrating some of the scenes would have added value. Ind
The book has received the Bal Sahitya Puraskar 2010. A newly instituted award by the Sahitya Akademi.