By Madiha Akhtar
Fri, 04, 16

An ode to friendship

What happens when you realize that you have little time left in this world? You either freak out or fall into a pit of gloom. In both the situations, whatever is meant to happen, will happen. Life is an unpredictable journey, and one must learn to live it as it comes, with resilience and hope.

Zainab Tanveer Khan’s novel, ‘A Bucket Full of Awesome’ tells us to exhibit the same resilience in the face of adversity. No matter how bleak a situation may seem, one should never lose hope and live life to the fullest without having any room for regrets.

One marvels at how the 16-year-old Khan, a budding writer on the bloc, revels in the beauty of life, relationship and unknowingness in her novel, published last year. She has masterfully spun a story around two protagonists: Summer Wallace and Blake Walker. Summer is a young, crazy and carefree girl who is an avid basketball player, while Blake, her best friend and her accomplice, is a wise and sensible guy. Their friendship had blossomed over years, which is why they never leave each other’s sides.

The novel starts with Summer being diagnosed with second-stage Cancer. Despite her anxiety and devastation, she comes up with a unique bucket list of 34 wishes – later called “A Bucket Full of Awesome” by Blake. Being her sidekick, Blake supports her in fulfilling most of the wishes as a true ode to their friendship.

Summer’s bucket list is a combination of crazy and unreasonable wishes. She wishes to punch a thug, have a mud-fight, sleep under the stars and lie in the middle of the road at night, among other things. She aims to derive unexplainable joy from these things, and make her moments precious. In Summer’s words, “Reasonable things will never bring you as much joy as unreasonable ones do”. Her feeling is beautifully illustrated in the following phrase when she unravels her wish list to her best friend for the first time: “There shouldn’t be any space for regrets in our beautiful lives.”

The author has also supported her plot by establishing other characters like Summer’s parents and her doctor. All of them add vitality and a natural flow to the story. The entire book is written eloquently and its lucid tone will keep readers hinged onto every word.

With the undertones of life and love, the book is a celebration of friendship and the beauty of optimism. The author has grippingly developed the characters who go through a difficult phase following Summer’s cancer diagnosis. There is hardly any dull moment, and the book is a natural page-turner.

Such adeptness in writing at such a young age is commendable. Zainab, who is a student at Dawood Public School, perfectly blends her academic routine with leisure. She manages to write impressively and strikes a chord of empathy with her readers. This is one     book   which you need to read slowly and savour each moment during reading.

On a side note, it is remarkable that Pakistan has such a treasure trove of talent. To tap into this potential, we need to provide our young people with platforms to showcase their work and share their ideas.