Monday, April 14, 2014

Beyond School by Chitra Anand

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

The author, Chitra Anand is a postgraduate in Physics and holds an Education Degree. Beyond School is her first novel inspired by her journey as an educator.

'Beyond School' 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, which include - sleeping with abandon, dreaming about football or his girlfriend, watching re-runs of football matches on TV, texting on mobile phone for hours and much more. In short, a typical day in his life does not have any 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.

As the story progresses and as the examination days are approaching nearer, the pressure is soaring high for Shail to escape from his parents' focus and for his parents to make Shail study. 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 counselor without being preachy. Her way of dealing with such situations is to get the student understand why and how a particular fixation of mind and heart starts driving the decisions and when that fixation is satisfied, how the pressure fizzles out. 'Tell people that they can have what they want and soon their fight for the want loses intensity.' 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 counseling.

Chitra Anand highlights many areas that have gained immense significance in the lives of individuals who are at the cusp of adulthood. The unrestrained  access to information, gadgetry invasion, unabashed approach towards sexual issues and much more are subtly weaved into the fabric of the narrative. This gives an honest reflection of the society in which today's youth is functioning. Though an amateur author, Chitra has done justice to the idea that she wanted to convey through her writing. However, there are a few places where editing could have been more tight. Some of the incidents are unnecessary or too elaborate which could easily be done away with. 
A recommended read for young adults and their parents.