I have read few other books of Abha Dawesar but “Family Values” is a completely different type of book I have ever read. The most peculiar thing about this book is that the author has avoided any real names. All the characters in the book are named either on their profession, relationship or quirks like boy, cousin, doctor, sugar-mills, six fingers and so on. Even the name of city or streets are not mentioned at all in the book. Delhi is just referred to as Capitol and Chandigarh is planned city. In the beginning it sounded a bit jarring to me but then the names grow on you and you actually start liking these names and they make a lot of sense.
The book is written from the perspective of a boy who watches the world around him. His world is his small home which is also a clinic for his doctor parents. There are so many relatives with each one of them having some issue or the other in family. The author has interconnected the story with current events of that time but never referring to them by exact name. The events like Jessica Lall murder, Nithari Killings, Stolen Kidneys, Arms Kickbacks and so many other things are mentioned in great detail. The boy is trying to make sense of it all and often wondering what adults are up to.
I liked the book for its bold and different narrative but after some time it tends to become very depressing. At the same time what is mentioned in the story is the stark reality of relationships and family values. At one place I ended up laughing really loud where a name is mentioned as “Elder Brother Goddess Red”. You need to know the politics of state of Haryana in India and a bit of Hindi to be able to understand this.