Book Review: Mango Cheeks, Metal Teeth

With a unique title and catchy cover design, this one will take you on a breezy ride through one playful and warm summer vacation. A beautiful and thoughtful book it is and it comes with a great message!

Not many books manage to leave back a lingering sweetness but this one does. And while you read the book, you are sure to enjoy the quirky humor and the playful storyline against the backdrop of a small fictional town of Ambalakunnu at Kerala. The blurb says the story is of the era when Sridevi and Kapil Dev were at the peak of their glories, in the 80’s. Yes, it brings back memories of the times when we lived in a lesser technology-complicated world.
The annual vacations were so innocent, joyous and playful when they did not mean international trips, gadget freaking, luxury summer camps or project making.  They meant packing bags, boarding one train, following the usual route that took us to our ancestral grandparent’s place.  Nothing in the world could be exchanged for them and nothing can bring them back- Fun with cousins, bathing and sleeping at wish, lazy afternoons, grandfather’s stories, grandma’s pampering, running around the verandahs-gardens, playing with servants of the house, feeding the pets and befriending the locals. Gone are those carefree, charming days but long live the memories! Thanks to the author as she takes us through Geeta’s vacation story.


Geeta, an eleven year old girl is the protagonist. She narrates the story of one such summer vacation when she visits her maternal grandparents little town, Ambalakunnu at Kerala.  Madhavan Nair, her Apoopan owns a mansion, has servants, pets etc.  When his grandchildren come visiting from Mumbai and Delhi, the quaint house buzzes with activity. When you read the story, you would know it. Geeta is the little one who happens to make new friends that summer and eventually the chemistry between them causes a huge impact in her life.

In the book we get to read many small stories hand in hand. One in which Geeta keeps us abreast with the happenings in the Nair house, the customary routines, the timelessness of Devaki Nilayam, antics of Keshavan Mama, fights of her cousins Vikki and Ravi with Divya and Mini and the kitchen gossip. Then there is another story of Bindu, the daughter of Koovait Kannan and Sundarikutty  getting married to Venu. Kannan, the plumber who has just turned rich and how the richness goes into his wife’s head is an interesting take on human nature. But soon when things take a turn, Sundarikutty  is back to seeking help from her previous employers, the Nairs. Between this another story cooks up in the kitchen when Kannan’s soon Babu is heads over heels in love with the cook at the Nair’s place and during this phase when he does all to be around her, he teaches Geeta to ride a bicycle.


The humor and imagery wins in this quick-read book.  The author has a distinctive style of her own and it makes you take an instant liking for her sweet, simple and sorted writing. The family tale etched by her touches upon many aspects of life, love, marriage, innocence of childhood, societal rules, ego, pride, richness, perceptions of affluent and the poor etc. Initially it was tough to catch up with Malayalam phrases but then a glossary at the end of the book comes out helful. It was very thoughtful of the writer to maintain the authenticity of the place, characters by portraying it all with the original dialect.

Overall the theme resonates with childhood, innocence and growing up.  Well, the best times to grab it up would have been the vacations but make the most of it in the festival holidays around. Aruna Nambiar’s book ‘Mango Cheeks Metal Teeth’ is sure to make you nostalgic like it did to me.

— Your’s truely,  M 

Also blogs actively at Pendown: Her breathing space for creative expression, and a wonderful collection of book reviews, product reviews and travelogues. A full time author in the making and a proud iMelonite !

– An initiative to feature notable authors. 
Mango Cheeks, Metal Teet
h by Aruna Nambiar
is the book “In Focus”.


An Engineer/Story-Writer who loves to be called #Blogger more. Travel, Food, Books, Reviews, Brands make Pendown!

One thought on “Book Review: Mango Cheeks, Metal Teeth

  1. Excited. Want to know why?
    1. The book has my home- state Kerala in it's backdrop and the review took me back to my childhood years when we used to visit my grand parents her for the annual vacations.
    2. One of the stories has my namesake as the protagonist.
    3. There is this house named 'Devaki Nilayam' and it so happens that my ancestral home ( paternal) too is 'Devaki Nilayam'
    4. I had an uncle. His name was Kesavan Nair and we called him Kesava mama.

    Now I wonder what other similarities are there in this book. Raring to read it. Somehow I feel I will be able to connect to it.

    Great review M.

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