Saturday, 26 July 2014

Book Review #9 : Beyond School

Beyond School centres upon the weeks leading up to 17-year-old Shail’s final board exams, as his world becomes a pressure-cooker and the weight of preparing for the exams sends him fleeing rebelliously in the other direction. Along with Shail’s journey from boyhood to manhood, Beyond School vividly weaves between the narratives of four main characters, seamlessly uniting the past and present of Shail, his parents - Urmila and Sushil and his mentor - Gladys, in a story that is honest, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately, incredibly human.

Title : Beyond School
Author : Chitra Anand
Publisher : Leadstart Corp
ISBN : 978-93-83562-40-4

The novel is humble and vividly recounts characters familiar to any cosy Indian expat community, with its own struggles. Apt title!

Most importantly, the author is refreshingly frank in the face of idiotic norms imposed by frightened and ignorant puritans. She is blunt about the irresponsibility of pubescent self-absorption, but attempts to empathize instead of judging.

An eye opener book - that is simple yet fabulously entertaining; a story in which every teenager and parent can see their own reflection in one of the many interestingly woven characters.

Chitra has undoubtedly done a lot of research on the mind set of today's adolescents. The narration and dialogues are very interesting.

The story revolves around a grade twelve student Shail at an Indian School in Muscat. As countdown has begun for his board examinations, his parents Sushil and Urmila are at their wits ends. They cannot find any way to convince their son to study for the board exams while Shail leisurely goes about doing his other activities, having no scope to accommodate study time! However, what Sushil and Urmila are unaware of is Shail's decision to not appear for the exams at all this year.

Glady, the mentor in the school is approached for Shail's situation. She has a way of showing the students the side of the picture that they seem to be unaware of. She is a great counsellor without being preachy. She gives a new dimension to Shail's thinking so that he does not stay stuck with 'What is wrong if I don’t write the exams this year?'

A few more sub-stories are intertwined along with Shail's narrative, including that of - Glady's uncomfortable past, Sushil and Urmila's struggle to get united and Roha as another student requiring Glady's counselling.

Chitra Anand highlights many areas that have gained immense significance in the lives of individuals who are at the cusp of adulthood. This gives an honest reflection of the society in which today's youth is functioning.
Must read for parents and teenagers!

Beyond School by Chitra Anand was sent to me by Nimi Vashi as a part of the Readers Cosmos Review Programme. Thank You, Nimi, for the Book.


  1. Hey Aayesha, nicely reviewed in a simple way and something faced by many children, the mounting pressure on their tiny heads.


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