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Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite
Kurt and Bongo and the Hippies by Al Gromer Khan revolves around three main characters: Kurt (a German), Bongo (an African), and Toby (an Indian). There are other side characters in the story, but they are just that -- side characters. This does not mean that these extra players did not contribute to the story; on the contrary, they kept the entertainment quotient of the book high. Kurt and Bongo are living in the same apartment -- on and off. Bongo is a proper hippie who has a very different outlook on life. He does not follow the same rules as everybody else and does whatever interests him. Kurt, on the other hand, is not as impulsive as Bongo. In fact, he believes in being someone and doing something with his life. Many times, mostly when he is high (not essentially on drugs), he contemplates the direction that his life is taking. Toby lives in India and is fascinated by Germany. He believes that he is destined to be in Germany; however, life does not deal him an easy hand. His own father sold him to a guy, who used Toby sexually. Eventually, Toby finds his way out of this situation only to land up in another similar one. The story of his life is full of many twists.
The narration of the book is very different. The story moves along in the characters' musings about their lives or their reflections on their friends' lives. One cannot simply follow the plot without paying attention. There are many flashbacks, which require a reader to really use his/her common sense. That being said, once I got a hang of the narration, I was hooked to learn what would happen to Kurt, Bongo, and Toby. The racism that Kurt faced on a daily basis for being a German really made my blood boil at times. I was heartbroken to see Kurt - my favorite character - suffer. His personality has a depth to it that forced me to develop an understanding of him. Bongo's presence was a welcome escape from the seriousness of the plot. His dialogues and actions are marvelous. He made me laugh a lot. I had much sympathy for Toby in the beginning but, to my dismay, I discovered later that he did not deserve my sympathy at all. I applaud the author for managing to develop such deep emotions for the characters in the hearts of readers.