Being a journalist, stories of disappearances of foreign nationals is not uncommon to read about in nationals or regionals. Most of the time their stories are tracked for a while and then people lose hope about their whereabouts. It becomes easier to associate this with the storyline of Lost Girl by Sana Shetty. The story of Shanaya who was found in the dangerous terrains of Himachal on a particularly cold dawn drew me further into this exciting read.
Shanaya, a young, charismatic, bubbly girl is nursed back to health from her near-death experiences on the slopes; except that her memory has been wiped out. She now works in the café of her adoptive caregivers the Josephs. Protected by her friends Phavit and Nima, she leads a peaceful life in the hills. Until one day, a chance discovery stirs her memories of days long ago.
Who was Shanaya? Where was she from? Did she have a family? What happened to her the fateful night she was found injured and on the verge of dying? Was she under threat from somebody? All these mysteries shrouded her appearance and existence on the hills. But when her memory is triggered, the peaceful hill-hamlet wakes up to an approaching storm which endangers not only Shanaya but also those closely attached to her.
Shetty places her few yet impactful characters very amiably with the storyline. Each character challenges the pre-conceived norms of society. Vanessa, an ex-cop retires to the hills after witnessing how gender bias, superiority complex, male ego, and elite influence play a part in the system instead of straight justice. Aiden, a martial art instructor is strict but understanding and caring. He never hesitates to wrap up and relocate to various destinations as Vanessa is transferred, carving out work for himself with a smile. So much for those who say husbands aren’t understanding! They also consciously decide not to have children and yet experience parental bliss when Shanaya appears in their lives years later. Phavit, despite being the son of the local sarpanch wants to independently create a name for himself in the world of hospitality. Nima, having lost her entire family still retains her spirits and smiles her way through.
By and by as Shanaya’s past is revealed, more characters are introduced in the story, each having a unique agenda of their own to draw the malleable girl towards themselves. It is not until the end that one understands what dangers they are up against and what secrets that crucial night hid when Shanaya was found. From the United Kingdom to Delhi, from Mumbai to Pune, from Himachal to remote destinations, Lost Girl is not the story of Shanaya finding back her memory. It is the story of breaking the shackles of misogynistic patriarchy, fighting for one’s rights, standing up to subordination and abuse, displaying courage and loyalty, sticking together as friends in need, and above, all a hunt to reunite with loved ones.
Shetty’s unputdownable thriller is here to win your hearts with its twists and turns in every page. If you are a thriller lover, don’t miss – ‘A New Life…. A New Name… An Old Secret…. One LOST GIRL!’
No. of Pages: 313
Publisher: Harper Collins
*I would like to Thank Booxoul for sending over a review copy