First and foremost, 2020 has been a tough year, and my heart goes out to everyone who has suffered no matter the circumstance. We are all in this together, and I hope you all are staying safe, healthy, and happy.
Second, thank you all very much for reading this blogpost. It will explain the greater significance of specific aspects of my debut novel, The Voice At The Back of My Head. (Side Note: I would highly recommend that you read the book in order to better understand the following).
Part 1: Alex
As per the story, Alex or Alexander is the name that Priyanka gives to the “voice” at the back of her head. However, the specific reason I chose that name was because it means “savior”. Given that Alex goes out of his way to help Priyanka understand the mistakes she’s making and what she needs to do to get back on her feet, he’s trying to help her and, essentially, “save” her. This easter egg was briefly mentioned in the book but was not emphasized as much. Additionally, at the New Year’s Party, a new character named Alex, from Swede Heaven, WA, is introduced. This Alex (the human one) was described as following Priyanka into the woods during the party… (I will leave you in suspense).
In all, the characters of Alex, both the physical and mental ones, were an extremely significant part of the story and of Priyanka’s journey.
Part 2: Priyanka’s Eight Struggles
In the story, there are eight major struggles that Priyanka faces, and some readers were wondering if the number eight had some sort of importance in the story. And the answer is… yes, it does!
There are eight struggles – one for every letter in Priyanka’s name – and each of them is summarized below:
Progress Reports: After her teachers entered the scores from projects and tests from before December break, her grades dropped majorly and the “progress” here was that she was on her way to failing some classes as well. This impacted Priyanka because it was abnormal for her as she was always an exemplary student.
Relationship: Around the middle of the story, Priyanka’s dad (Nanna) asks her if she is dating Liam, whom she is but hid from her parents. So, although she told Nanna about the relationship, she did lie to him about staying within her limits – which she was exceeding. (The reason why contains a spoiler, so read the book to find out!) Hence, the guilt slowly weighed her down along with the rest of her struggles.
Injurious: After Priyanka’s grandparents’ death, Priyanka’s mom (Amma) goes to India to help with the rituals. However, the day Amma was supposed to return, she met with an accident. In the explanation that Nanna gave about the accident, he mentioned that she suffered major head trauma and that there was no guarantee that she would remember everything that happened. Thus, Priyanka does not know what to feel at this point because so much bad keeps happening to her, and she does not know what to do about it.
Yearning: Further, speaking of her grandparents’ accident, she yearns for her Ammamma and Thatha because she felt like she did not get to say goodbye to them. Also, she thinks that their passing is what caused her mom’s accident, and thus, this adds to the list of things she goes through but cannot do anything about. (Or so she thinks).
Anxiety: Priyanka being diagnosed with anxiety was the part of the story when things started to go downhill for her because all her emotions and what she felt were multiplied. Essentially, she was that much more sensitive to anything and everything that took place.
Nervousness: From chapter 18 – Ellie’s Real Side Appears – onwards, Priyanka has this constant nagging where she thinks about what Ellie did to her and how that might affect her relationship with Liam. This persistent fear gets to her and that brings her down as she was not able to deal with the drama.
Kyle: At a point in the story, the reader sees Priyanka introduced to drugs – two times, actually – but the time that matters the most is when one of her friends, Kyle, tells her that getting high will let her forget about all her problems. Because of this, she abuses the drugs and was high almost every day, all day, towards the end of the book. It’s important to remember that this was also a struggle that she was facing because she didn’t want to become addicted to something which helped her in the short-term but did the exact opposite in the long run – except that’s exactly what she was doing.
Alex: Lastly, is the “voice” at the back of her head – Alex. As said before, Priyanka’s relentless behavior in not asking for help and trying to suffer everything on her own was what initiated Alex’s return. However, when he was trying to guide her in the right direction, she misinterpreted what he was doing, and, instead, made him a struggle as well because she thought that he was making everything worse for her.
Part 3 – The Story’s Biggest Themes, Morals, and Takeaways
Although these are not hidden significances in the book and rather what I wanted the reader to take away, I felt it was important to emphasize them anyway.
Theme One: Listen.
A lot of the time, listening to the other person, rather than trying to help them, is the best thing they can ask for. As described, Priyanka struggles to confide in any one person because she was not sure that they would just listen to her without judging her or trying to help. This feeling is what prevents Priyanka from seeking help, and that is exactly what leads her down the path she went down. So, next time someone asks to talk to you, try to just listen – without interrupting, helping, judging, or zoning out. The other person needs to have confidence that they would be able to confide in you for anything. This confidence can build up over time, and they will, eventually, learn to not struggle through everything themselves.
“People don’t always need advice. Sometimes all they need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a heart to understand them.”
Remember this. Always.
Theme Two: A Second Chance.
Everybody deserves a second chance. Everyone on this planet makes mistakes as it is impossible to grow in the right way without making mistakes and learning from them. Priyanka makes many, many, many mistakes in the story – both small and big. Some of them she learned from and some she did not, but the very fact that she made those mistakes in the first place helped her grow. Now, these mistakes that Priyanka repeated continuously, are the ones that she let take her down, and in the note she writes her parents, she says, “So, Amma and Nanna, this is what happened in my life since we came to America … But, I guess sometimes, people don’t deserve second chances. And that’s okay” (Kavikondala 140). However, what she does not understand is that she does deserve a second chance. For this reason, and more, her father, at the end of the book, whispers, “Everybody deserves a second chance” (Kavikondala 143).
To all of you reading, please, please, please, remember:
“Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that doesn’t mean they have to pay for them for the rest of their life. Sometimes, good people make bad choices, but it does not mean they are bad. It means they are human.”
With that, everyone, my blog is complete! I cannot be more thankful for all of you as your support, encouragement, and love have overwhelmed me with joy. I hope you enjoyed diving deeper into my book, The Voice At The Back of My Head, and traveling behind the scenes with me. Please do read my book if you have not already – here is the link for your convenience!