Book Review: Yohan’s Summer of Woe By George S. Paracka

A distraught young man returns home after five years away in college and undertakes a private mission trying to awaken his townspeople to the vanity of religious establishments.

Y’s summer of woe is the story of a young man (Yohan) who returns home to the small-town Thrissur and goes on a streak of graffiti painting in order to address the frustration of his disillusionment with a society that is ruled by religion. His motivation for his riotous actions is his idealism as much as it is his disappointment in love. However, not being one to brood over treacherous acquaintances from the past (as-a-rule), he soon faces the prospect of running out of steam. He then meets Davis, a contemporary both in age and of being-in-love-with a girl of another religion. Davis, is the son of the Mayor of Thrissur, and with the help of several others plans on organizing a fete themed on the unity of all religions, where he plans to marry his lover. The fete provides Yohan with a convenient end point to his lone campaign as well as a measure for the possible change in public attitude towards the issues he addressed. With the police on his heels however, Yohan has to leave but not without providing the Bishop (the epitomical figure of all he fought against) one last shock.

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I liked this 20 chapter book. My favorite lines: 1) Under normal circumstances, having woken up first, he would’ve held the advantage of slipping out if he never wanted to see her again or leaving a note, or even sticking around for the opposite; but he needed to get paid. 2) “You are my hero, Jen.” Yohan said softly, nuzzling her hair. “Nothing identifies an artist better than their ability to dream.”

Yohan returned home from college after getting his heart broken by a girl. I admired that he was a rebel in his own right. He decided to vandalize three buildings by spraying graffiti art. I liked the build-up of if the town of Thrissur would realize it was him. The cops, Mayor, and church folk were adamant about finding the criminal so he could receive proper punishment.

At times, the story read like an essay, once even referring to Yohan as “our protagonist.” It seemed like the narration was very sophisticated and mature instead of matching Yohan and his friends’ personalities. For example, “Often, great men being born far from that way are made great by the demands of life. As with the mayor of Thrissur, to take an example, his liberality on what most people desired to interpret as antagonist propaganda spreading was shaped more by circumstances of helplessness than largesse of character.”

  • I had to get used to reading passages like this. However, I liked that it felt like the characters were talking directly to me. They used “you” and “our” a lot. It had a philosophical feel to the writing. Since I’m very analytical, it’s cool when a piece of fiction makes me think.

It was funny when Yohan applied to a Craiglist ad. He was very professional even though it was for a porn film LOL. I enjoyed his interaction with Jen. Her dream was to become a writer, but that wasn’t paying her bills, so she had to resort to something else. But I don’t know how well she succeeded if her website wasn’t enough to pay her bills either LOL.

  • I could sense they were probably going to end up together. Definitely an interesting story to tell folks of how you first met. I enjoyed Yohan interacting with his friends as well. They were tired of the church/religion trying to dictate their lives. Davis was funny whenever he picked on Yohan. Davis called him weird because he was quiet but blurted out random things.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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