Book Title: Stoned Shamed Depressed
Author: Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava
No. of pages: 219
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Non-Fiction
Do I recommend it? YES! Specifically to millennials.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you, HarperCollins India, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

To be honest, I’m not sure how to even start writing a review for this book. Firstly, it took me a considerable amount of time and emotional energy to read through the book. Secondly, it took time to even process the information that I was getting through the book. Thirdly, the book was taking me to those deep-buried memories that I never wanted to explore again from my own teenage years.

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"Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you." ~ Tyrion Lannister I was not even ten years old. Since then, till today, I've been shamed for one thing continuously. Non-stop. It's a physical characteristic of mine and it's one of the things you'll notice the first when you meet me. I'm a teeny tiny person, folks! An imp, a Hobbit, and other cute little things. As a child, I was made stand beside my cousins who grew taller than me, despite being younger. I was then laughed at for not gaining height as fast as my peers. That happened within family first. And then at school. It happened even a few weeks ago when another cousin of mine, 14 years younger than me, came and the first thing she wanted to do was to see if she got taller than me or not. She did. She's 12. For years and years, I cursed myself because I couldn't figure out why was I not getting any taller while everyone around me had enough of growth hormones to rise high. I was consoled by my parents often as they kept saying, "Some people get taller later in their lives. It's okay. Maybe you'll get taller too." Viva. Milo. Choco Delite. Bournvita. Horlicks. I've drank all kinds of health drinks available as a child. Not in the hopes of getting taller. But because I loved them all. And it gets pointed out how I didn't drink Complan. Maybe that's why I'm short. Scratch that, shorter than others. I've even tried pills that promised an escalated height. Because my mom insisted. When it didn't work after having two files, I stopped taking them. Always wary of such pills. Because by the time I was taught genetics at school, I knew that I simply had two small 't's (tt) and that's the reason I'm not tall. Once, I participated in a group dance activity for a school annual function. I was going to rehearsals, having fun with friends, and finally prepping myself of getting over stage fright too. Then one fine day, the dance teacher, knocked me off the team. Not because I wasn't good at dancing but because I was too short. I never took up dancing after that. (continued in comments)

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So, of course, it was difficult wrapping my head around a lot that this book promises to show. Nonetheless, this book deserves a review! And more importantly, this book needs to reach the right hands. Hence, the warning.

Trigger Warnings:

Drug abuse, Addiction (all kinds), Shaming (Body and Mind), Sexual Assault, Rape threats, Slut-shaming, Gaming, Suicide, Self-harm, Mental Health, Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Sleeping Disorders, Phone addiction (and related disorders), Ragging, Bullying, etc..

This book’s tagline is: An Explosive Account of the Secret Lives of India’s Teens. Now, read the above triggers again.

This book is basically a collection of many such accounts, investigated by the author, of Indian teens who have been through one or many of the above scenarios. It starts with the digital life that we lead now. For us millennials, digital life gradually grew up with us. But for the ones who came after, even a day old baby faces the mobile camera. And then day by day, it gets introduced to THE SCREEN. And we all know how THE SCREEN starts getting addicted to us, specifically to our eyes. Yes, it’s both ways, I believe. We get addicted to the screen and it gets addicted to us.

Also read: Hold Me While I Fix Myself – Book Review

Then it goes on with how the drug or substance abuse and addiction is a big issue among the youngest of teens in India (and please note, that it has nothing to do with Urban or Rural teens). But this book focuses on how coming from a high society privileged family, can be a reason for a child to stray towards or rather choose the dark path.

Oh, and FYI, it’s not just the Bollywood who’s on drugs. It might even be the kid, with plugged-in earphones, you saw in the metro station the other day. Or the man in an ironed white shirt, talking politely to someone from work. It’s a grave problem which the authorities are too lazy and ignorant to handle.

Next, we see how ragging and bullying is one of the latent explosives that teens deal with on an everyday level. I’m sure whoever is reading this, must have faced an incident of bullying and ragging, at least once in their lives. If you’re a fan of high school drama movies/books, you must have noticed one or two scenes that depict bullying as if it’s too normal in daily lives. And it’s true, it is a part of our lives. But normal? Hell, no! Any such small incident can scar a person for the rest of their lives and in some circumstances, those bullies know the consequences and yet continue to do it.

Also read: His Dark Materials – Book Series Review

In India, this largely takes place in a college environment. One of the things we check before applying to a college is the Ragging scene of that college. It’s basically a “harmless” ritual that college seniors perform that eventually do cause harm that they can never even imagine. Or maybe they can.

With the advent of Social Media, this whole bullying thing has now shifted Online and has become even easier to carry out for those perpetrators who commit hideous crimes while hiding behind THE SCREEN. The most recent example is how a few weeks ago, a number of Book Reviewers on Instagram, were being cyberbullied and constantly harassed by an author whose book they didn’t like. It was a huge battle that went on for days and in the end, the author’s account was taken down. But of course, these pests don’t stay away for long, do they? The things he did or said about the people he approached to work with are criminal offenses and it’s high time the authorities take these seriously and take action. Unfortunately, I am facing a similar situation as well.

Also read: Candid Tales: India on a Motorbike – Book Review

This book goes on talking about many such issues that considered a hush-hush affair in almost every Indian household. This book jumps from one issue to another swiftly. Just like we fall into those dark pits, without knowing so ourselves, and only realizing it after we’re somewhat lost. You’ll read stories… real accounts of teenagers, that will make your skin go cold. It refers to many topics that we’re all aware of but know so little about. For example, the Boys Locker Room Instagram group, Blue Whale Challenge, Momo challenge, and other such disturbing topics.

I can keep going on and on about the book and the topics that are included. But you need to read the book to be able to know and understand how these aren’t topics that go under the carpet.

What helped me move through the book is the writing. It was easy to read through, sharp, and extremely impactful.

However, the one thing about this book that makes it dangerous is that it’s full of negative vibes. And why wouldn’t it be? It relays to us all those buried stories that people brush away because they’re negative. I know this book is hardly supposed to be positive but a few signs of improvement in the system would’ve been nice.

Alas, this… is not fiction.

Quick Question: Have you read any book that has hugely impacted your mental health?

9 Thoughts on “STONED SHAMED DEPRESSED – BOOK REVIEW

  1. I really want to read this one. But i am a more of a fiction reader, so i know even if i get it i won’t be touching it anytime soon. But it’s a great book and your detailed review has surely convinced me to get this book anyway. (Even if it just means to compliment my shelf).

    1. I’m not a non-fiction reader as well but I’m so glad that I got to read this one. It is a must-read for every millennial, tbh. I’m quite happy that my review was convincing enough. 😀 Thanks for reading!

  2. After reading your review, I really want to read this book. Honestly speaking, the problems of teenagers especially those dwelling in the Indian society are very much buried and rarely talked about. Personally, I have rarely talked about what I had to go through as a teenager. The trigger warnings that you gave in the beginning, I was literally thinking how many tick off with respect to my life and with respect to my classmates. I just hope, this book becomes a ray of hope and symbol of change to make the lives of teenagers better in our country.

    1. That last line. I really really hope this book reaches the correct readers and serves its purpose effectively. I’d suggest everyone read this book as it’s quite an important book in today’s age.

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