"..the story unfolds without frills, simply and directly, which is what teenagers would welcome.."

Posted 8/17/2016

a review by Nita Berry ( www.thebookreviewindia.org )

VOLUME XL NUMBER 6 June 2016

 

Eighteen: The End of Innocence is a book dedicated to coming of age. Those sensitive teenage years which oscillate between childhood and adulthood are often beset with physical, mental and social worries. Books dealing with this time of life could be both a guide and friend. Yet there has been a regrettable gap in our literature for the young adult. This vacuum is recently being filled with novels on adolescent years and college life by a host of upcoming young authors.

Set in Delhi in the 1990s, Eighteen is all about the lives of three teenagers—Raghu who is in the final year at a boys school, his girl friend Shalini and his best friend Aadi. It deals with their dreams and fears, friendships and escapades at the end of their school years as they make the turbulent transition from adolescence to adulthood. The newfound freedom leads to a scenario only too familiar to teenage readers—short attendance as a result of bunking classes for a beer, movie or momos—money worries—trendy girlfriends to impress buddies—mysterious blank calls, music in parking lots, the high of speeding on wide avenues in the dead of night, a brush with the cops… New preoccupations like falling in love, contraception and sex, worry and abortion—all are juggled together with hectic tuition and exam schedules, college admissions, results… As affairs fizzle out and glitzy dreams fade, there is eventual merger into the mainstream with a conventional job or career, as the Prologue seems to suggest.‘Being young is tougher than it seems. Every generation has its own set of issues to deal with…’ before settling down onto the beaten track!

Youngsters will readily identify with the lives and language of the main characters, their relationships with their peers—and parents who come across as woefully traditional and obtuse, but are unexpectedly supportive in a crisis.

The dialogue is fun and the local slang reflects teenage banter. There is humour in many situations—like driving 9 km in reverse gear at the dead of night. The writing is no great shakes but the story unfolds without frills, simply and directly, which is what teenagers would welcome for a quick read.

The narrative has been split into sections under the names of the main characters. This could have been a great stylistic device had it been used effectively. Shoddy editing detracts from an interesting read, and basic punctuation is sadly lacking throughout the text. The publishers would have done well to have taken care of this major flaw in the book—which is attractive even if one were to judge it simply by its title and cover.