Whispers of the Waves

Non-Fiction - Memoir
530 Pages
Reviewed on 03/19/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Whispers of the Waves is a work of non-fiction penned by author A K Girisam in the memoir, coming of age, and seafaring stories subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Readers are invited to journey through the author's varied and exciting experiences as a chief engineer in the merchant navy. From fun-filled college days to life-threatening incidents at sea, Girisam narrates his adventures in a light-hearted manner, offering insights into the unique challenges and thrills of a career in shipping and sailing. As the great-grandson of literary giant Mr. Gurajada AppaRao, Girisam also reflects on his family's legacy and the societal impact of his ancestor's work. With chapters that can be read independently, the book provides a diverse range of anecdotes and musings, offering readers a roller-coaster ride through the author's life and career.

Author A.K. Girisam's friendly narrative style and atmospheric storytelling are engaging and relatable. Whether he's recounting amusing college escapades or harrowing encounters at sea, readers are in for a fascinating experience that offers a glimpse into a world very few experience firsthand. The book's structure allows readers to dip in and out of chapters, making it easy to digest and enjoy at their own pace, and it's a wonderful book to leave lying around for a much-needed mini escape into another life. Girisam's perspective as a chief engineer provides valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of a maritime career, while his reflections on family and legacy give the work a warm and personal touch that endears him to us all the more. Overall, Whispers of the Waves is an entertaining and enlightening read that offers something for everyone, whether they're seasoned sailors or armchair adventurers, and I would certainly recommend it to memoir fans everywhere.

Nino Lobiladze

Whispers of the Waves by A.K. Girisam is an engaging read that memoir lovers will appreciate. The author's prominent career as a marine engineer spans over thirty years. A chief engineer for merchant ships, Girisam has many stories to share, starting from his student years. He remembers adventures with a group of college friends called the Wild Bunch. Girisam speaks about his first steps on board a merchant ship as the fifth engineer and reveals the challenges he faced while being responsible for the proper functioning of the ship's machinery as the chief engineer. Girisam adds recollections of his childhood years and his family and his takes on such topics as forgiveness, the art of making a good investment, the impact of amnesia on our lives, and many more.

A.K. Girisam's Whispers of the Waves is quite long but the author's humorous and appealing writing style makes it a quick and enjoyable read. Girisam shows the job of a marine engineer from many different angles. The author's wide experience and deep knowledge of his profession shine through the pages. The author explains the importance of the Suez Canal for global trade and narrates how he dealt with a failed steering while their ship was crossing it. Girisam makes the technical details easy to understand for a layperson like me. While his adventures on the high seas are breathtaking to read, his memories about his younger years and his family are heartwarming and make us smile. The account of his daughter Manisha's wedding teaches us more about India's beautiful customs and traditions. The author also offers a historical overview of life in India in the nineteenth century, using the achievements of his great-grandfather, a famous writer, Gurajada Appa Rao, as an example.

Paul Zietsman

Whispers of the Waves by A.K. Girisam is a memoir comprising numerous short anecdotes. The author shares his experiences of studying engineering in his home country of India, working as a marine engineer on cargo and other ships, and he describes his upbringing and family life. During his studies, he was part of a group of friends that were known as 'the wild bunch'. They would often bunk classes to go see movies or partake in other activities. During his career as an engineer on ships, he excelled in his duties and so has interesting tales to tell of adventures on the high seas. He describes his two daughters and how they have inherited his laziness and inclination to procrastinate, but luckily their mother's beauty.
Whispers of the Waves intrigued me and taught me a fair amount about India's culture, including its religions, customs, cuisine, and society. A.K. Girisam's conversational style is similar to that of an old friend telling stories of his life and times. His writing is informal, and this further heightens the book's appeal. Apart from the interesting facts I learned about India's culture, I also learned a fair bit about the lives of sailors on the high seas and the adventures they undertake. The book is very well-written and professionally edited. The stories A.K. Girisam tells are interesting and sometimes frightening, but at times lighthearted and comical. A good book by a man who has had his fair share of adventures and who comes across as honest, hardworking, and humble.

Edith Wairimu

In his lively, adventure-filled memoir, Whispers of the Waves, A K Girisam recounts his heart-warming childhood experiences, hilarious college escapades, and exhilarating career in marine engineering. Girisam’s great-grandfather, Sri Gurajada Appa Rao, was a scholar and great social reformer who is recognized as the father of modern Telugu literature. In the memoir, Girisam documents his early childhood years. He was raised by loving parents and grew up around his extended family. He covers his college years, including his friendships and the exciting experiences he had. Girisam’s retelling of his time at sea, including a near-miss incident that could have resulted in a devastating collision, his work on the ship, the people he encountered, and his rise to chief engineer is engrossing. His work is intertwined with philosophical musings, eye-opening explanations of what his career involved, and humorous remarks.

The memoir is an incredible story filled with many captivating scenes and thrilling events. Girisam does an incredible job of writing a lengthy work that is engrossing at every stage and is filled with many, lively unforgettable moments. I loved his words of wisdom which are enlightening and found his ability to overcome challenges in his work as an engineer inspiring. There are many fascinating characters and interesting encounters included in the memoir. The story brims with humor and I found myself glued to each chapter. Whispers of the Waves by A K Girisam is an extraordinary memoir that offers so much and will appeal to a wide range of readers. It is a fun read with educational content and practical wisdom.

Asher Syed

In his memoir Whispers of the Waves, A.K. Girisam chronicles his life journey from college escapades and mentorship influences to a maritime career filled with its own tests and triumphs. Recounting incidents aboard ships, interactions with crew members, and familial obligations, Girisam discusses in great detail his experiences as a chief engineer, maritime hierarchy, and earning recognition despite setbacks. His memoir spans the full spectrum of professional successes, including managing crises mid-voyage and initiating warranty claims, alongside personal reflections on family dynamics, childhood memories, societal issues, and raw accounts of financial investments he made that went wrong. From childhood discipline to generational cultural differences and hiccups in arranging his daughter's marriage, Girisam shares personal anecdotes, his observations on life, and his aspirations for preserving India's cultural heritage in his retirement.

Nobody is ever going to be able to accuse A.K. Girisam of not living a full and robust life, and his memoir Whispers of the Waves is a testament to that. There is very little that Girisam leaves out, even making sure a reader knows his preferences on the spice level of the food he eats. In a raw and candid moment, he does not try to hide the horrible things people close to him have said. The writing is simple and straightforward, and while the memoir is mostly chronological, it does occasionally oscillate between periods, sometimes reading like vignettes. Girisam's work is at its best when he discusses relatable human conditions that everyone must contend with at points in their lives. I most liked it when he addressed themes of forgiveness, loneliness, and coping mechanisms. Overall, this is a memoir that I think will be embraced by people who know or know of Girisam personally, and I do not doubt that as a legacy memoir, it will be treasured by his family for generations to come.