‘Half Girlfriend’ by Chetan Bhagat | Book Review


I’ve always maintained that a book should be entertaining, irrespective of the language it’s written in or the quality of literature used in composing it. In fact, I consider myself one of those “non-English types” to whom this book is dedicated to. I loved Chetan Bhagat as a story-teller since Five Point Someone, and have followed up reading all his book released since then. I had an alternative like/dislike relationship with his work – I loved Five Point Someone, disliked Three Mistakes Of My Life, loved Two States, disliked Revolution 2020, and was totally pissed off with What Young India Wants. The cinematic adaptations of almost all his books were good (3 Idiots and Kai Po Che were exceptional cinematic adaptations, while 2 States the book scored over 2 States the movie.) Enough about that though, moving over the actual topic now. Did I like Half Girlfriend? My answer’s YES.

*SPOILER ALERT (Not anything major though – I’ve ensured not to give away important plot-twists)*

Madhav Jha is a blue-blooded, national-level basketball player hailing from a small town in Bihar, and in spite of his poor grasp over English, manages to score a seat in Delhi’s reputed St Stephens college in sports quota. Here he meets Riya Somani, a chic girl belonging to one of Delhi’s elite families, who unlike Madhav is super-fluent in English. Their common passion – Basketball – makes for an ice-breaker and forms the connect which matures through several stages. Madhav has feelings for Riya, and though Riya considers him a great friend, she’s not into the same mode as Madhav. He proposes to her, she declines the proposal. This continues every now and then, with her rejecting the girl the guy every single time, until the guy loses it to desperation and blurts out Deti hai to de, verna kat le (which literally translates to f**k me or f**k off). It was a cheap shot, and Riya reacted as any self-respecting girl would. She walked out of his life never to return again, until days later when she hands him her wedding card.

Madhav is heartbroken, and after completing his graduation he ditches his high-paying corporate offer and moves back to his village Dumraon, helping his mother with running the village school. Now running a school requires funds, and his mother, the Rani Sahiba of Dumraon, has been paying out everything off her own pocket to support and run it as politics and political leaders have stashed in all the government funds. Gates Foundation is visiting India, and now the political leaders turn to better the school in order to better their own image. Madhav latches on to this opportunity, but there’s a catch – he has to deliver a speech in English to the world’s richest man to secure the funds. Can he do it?

St. Stephens hadn’t bettered Madhav’s English, and to brush it up for the speech, he decides to visit Patna, where he has a chance encounter with Riya, and their friendship blossoms once again. Riya helps Madhav with his English, and disappears after he delivers the speech and secures the grant for his school, leaving behind a letter in which she reveals that she has cancer and just has three more months of life left in her. Her journal discovered three years after her death uncovers darker secrets of her past.

Bhagat ensures reader engagement for most part of the book, and there’s simple humor peppered throughout the story ensuring ample entertainment. The author manages to Indianise the story in every bit possible, and the layer of emotions are such that almost every romantic idiot shall find a thread or two of their own lives weaved in the plot. The book has other sub-plots featuring marital violence, philanthropy that adds to its gravitas. Readers looking for novelty in the script would be disappointed much, but for a breezy light read it’s entertaining enough. It’s the perfect 4-hour-book, and perfect fodder for a Bollywood script. The last-minute predictable twist is sure to attract whistles when translated onscreen.

My minor disappointment with the book – Why did Madhav hand over Riya’s journal to Chetan? I know there’s an explanation for this, that he and Riya used to read his novels together, but still that doesn’t make it an explanation strong enough as to why you’d hand over your beloved’s journal to a complete stranger. Also, the parts with Madhav’s friends/relationship-experts seems a little too stretched. Rest all is pretty smooth. The narrative’s linear most of the time, and the prose is everyday.

To sum it all, Half Girlfriend is a simple love story, which holds mass appeal and will find its audience in both the book and the movie (which is already announced, by the way). India’s biggest bestseller has a definite winner in his new book.

Overall Rating : 3/5

You may purchase the book from Flipkart here : 


  • reena saxena says:

    as i read the review of half girlfriend it seems a love story of guys who present real love.

  • reena saxena says:

    i will love the book when i read as well as i love three mistakes of life.

  • abhishek says:

    Just love the book and loved the twist in the last when madav finds out the truth of her beloved one..!

  • Siddharth Gupta says:

    Completed reading the book in 4.5 hrs. The book kept me intrigued and I don’t think it posesses any lousy moment. This story on Celluloid will be a cracker! Order now! Surely it will give u a few smiles :)

  • Satyender Singh says:

    This is the first novel/book I read in my lifetime, all others are engineering and maths. Bhagat saab you are amazing, I want to know it’s imagination or a real story coz I want to meet Riya she marked a impression on my heart n mind. Madhav hats off for u.

  • When I started reading Half Girlfriend this afternoon I thought – “Well, here we go again..” but as Chetan himself admits, his writing has changed and how! I believe Half Girlfriend is a coming of age book for Chetan Bhagat. It retains the guilty pleasure feel from his earlier novels while providing some insightful commentary about rural education, English, development, politics and love reminiscent of his editorials. The commentary is centered around the protagonist Madhav and Bihar but is generally applicable to a variety of similar situations as well.

    In Madhav, Chetan has created yet another character that everyone will root for. This is going to make one hell of a movie script! Thanks for mentioning one of my favourite songs.

    Playing “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri on loop.

  • dipayan ghosal says:

    when u start reading it u will no be able to stop………………………..full of twists and a wonderful love story with a happy ending……………..i liked it through……but expected more since the writer was none other than chetan bhagat…………but still i will rate it 4 out of 5.

  • inder kohli says:

    i read half girlfriend in just 1 day .. i love it .. while reading the book i cried twice first when she left him at a 1st time 2nd when she left him with a heart breaking latter ..
    thanks sir for this story .. ..
    i am your big fan since i read your book calld revolution 20 20 ..i looking forward to your next storie .. :-)

  • ashu says:

    Ye mera pehla novel tha jo maine padha. Bhut hee acha novel h… 3.5 out of 5..

  • Surjeet kumar chaudhary says:

    Five point someone was my favourite novel at all. But after the half girlfriend, its become second one

  • Aman Anand says:

    good, interesting novel.

  • soham chattopadhyay says:

    after completing the book i was left awestruck by by the plethora of twists within this book and it was totally difeerent from chetan bagat’s other novel but IT WAS COMPLETELY HEARTTOUCHING

  • i rly lyk it..its a vry swt lovestry…full of suspense…thank u sir fo ur book “half girlfriend”

  • a stry which again touched my heart deeply…u rly cn image Madhav and Riya…i rly lyk dis swt nd pure livestory..Thank u chetan sir..

  • sachin says:

    Today I finished my new novel half girlfriend written by chetan bhagat it’s true sad love story in between bihari boy basketball player and delhi high class girl always come college in BMW.
    If u realy love some buddy in your life plz read it’s inspire story

  • sachin says:

    When i was reading the story i was feeling i am madhav.specially I want to see riya .because every time madhav express her quality preety lady on the earth then after madhav family. Madhav you are very lucky.i hate you.but every thing is possible salute ladke

  • Sanam Hanif says:

    Honestly, I m not the kinds who love reading novels. My friend ordered this book online and had a stay over at my place for the weekend. She left the book behind and some how it caught my interest. I got glued to the novel. One of the most beautiful love stories I have eve read. This book actually made me a reader. I am looking forward to read other books by Chetan Bhagat.. Hats Off!!!

  • Ankit Sharma says:

    I want to see real Image of Riya and madhav Plz.

  • Parv singh says:

    Only 1 Wrld i can say for the book Awsm Awsm And Awsm…..

  • Suhas Bhosale says:

    This is the first story that is I read. . Automatically I cry yr. . Marnese pahale ek bar to madhav jha and riya somani se milunga yar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *