From one bibliophile to another: Why my pre-teen self would have loved “Growing Pains”
First of all, before I start talking about Kanika’s brand new book “Growing Pains” for teen readers, I feel honour bound to disclose here that Kanika and I have been closely associated for the past few months over different writing projects. This post, consequently is not an attempt at book review but rather a bibliophile’s notes on all the sunniness that this book disperses to its readers.
My brain and intellect in my pre-teen and teen years was honed by a steady staple of Enid Blyton, Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. I was immersed in fairy worlds, traveled to exotic locations, indulged in good ol’ British humour and yet transfixed by the fictional-yet-all-too-possible courtroom legal battles. Reading gave me the ability to travel to new worlds across space and time and seemingly showed that the impossible was yet, just the undiscovered.
Growing Pains transported me back to a flash back of Alicia’s struggles with measles in The Upper Fourth at Malory Towers though the setting and the characters were very different in both the books.
Below are some of my reading notes if you wish to pick up a copy of the book.
Genre: School fiction
The book features teenaged twins Tara and Rashi though Tara is clearly the heroine. Tara is bookish and serious while Rashi is an extrovert and loves her bit of daily fun. Their Mama and Papa make up the remainder of their little family. The book starts off on a note of trouble. Thirteen year old Tara is in a new school with her twin and endures severe stomach pains. The unrelenting warden of the school refuses to acknowledge the severity of Tara’s discomfort and sends her back to class. With Rashi and Tara’s friend Priya coming to her rescue along with Mama, Tara is rushed off to hospital for an emergency appendectomy.
What I liked about the book:
Strong character development: I enjoyed the descriptions of even the smaller characters in the story. Kanika’s portrayal of Mrs Ghoshal as a glum and taciturn woman uninterested in student welfare is intriguing simply for the word portrait she builds of the woman in our minds. The subsequent unraveling of the reasons behind Mrs. G’s conduct and the transformation after that shows Kanika’s finesse as an author.
Plot: The book is clear-eyed right from the beginning as to what’s main story. The short travails of a sick teenager, the raging hormones that come into play when Tara meets her big crush, Sid, his inexplicable distance, merely days from his many sweetheart visits to her sick room; Rashi’s exuberance all add to conjure a tale that’s instantly relatable to a modern day teenager’s life.
Humour: My favourite chapter of the novella was “General Mama to the rescue” in which Tara’s agitated Mama hot wires a truck to move it for making way for Tara’s ambulance to get through and had me in splits. Of course, I loved the Wodehouse reference in “A search in vein”. Kanika knows her Wodehouse! The hilarious usage of puns such as “A search in vein” when the nurse had difficulty in finding a vein for Tara’s intravenal drip highlights humour in a difficult situation. Any book that has a healthy dose of humour always scores brownie points on my reading scale.
Bibliophile’s opinion: Yay, if you are a teenager and love reading Malory Towers or St.Clare. The struggles of this book, the setting and the development of lead characters are very different from Enid Blyton’s writing style but it will still leave you with the same warm fuzzy feelings that you get after reading hers.