Ants is a coming of age story that follows the events of Natasha’s life. From her insecurities to heartbreaks, sense of self to the relationship with family, the novel wades through the troubles an average teenager experiences in this world of online chatrooms & external validation.
This was quite a short read, and I liked that there were occasional glimpses of the 90s culture. Natasha’s (or Nats’ , as she is referred to) story reveals the mindset of the diasporic population, juggling two identities and made to feel foreign in the home that will never truly be theirs; that’s something that resonated strongly with me.
But apart from these subtle nuances, there wasn’t much that I could connect with or enjoy in the book. In all fairness, that’s because I can no longer relate to the trials and tribulations of a 19 y/o, and the way the book has been written paints a vivid picture of a teenager’s thirst for love & attention, ideas of intimacy & more.
Nats’ characterisation places a great deal of focus on her exploration of her sexuality, and we read about her attachment with boys she meets on online chatrooms. At times, the narrative tugs at your heartstrings and makes you wish for better circumstances in Nats’ life.
The story solemnly brings out the concerns over cybercrime, catphising, and rape porn. Through Nats’ fears & worries, the susceptible nature of young minds can be gleaned with clarity.
What I feel could’ve drastically improved my reading experience would be a more structured narrative style. I found it difficult to connect the dots between certain events that were mentioned in passing, and that still showed to be of importance to Nats’ character arc. Also, the non-linear style of storytelling was a tad too disjointed for my liking.
On the whole, I found it to be an okay read that showed a lot of potential for bringing out a rich own-voices story.