Teenage Diaries The Days That Were, written by a first time author Saurabh Sharma, is a young adult novel. It deals with stuff which ushering teenagers want to do once in their lifetime just for the sake of experience but never dare to do because of hurting parents reputation and facing their wrath.
Please don’t be mistaken by the title of the book. It is not a teenager’s diary penning his changing thoughts on the onset of puberty, looking at things from different perspective, changed feeling about the opposite sex, discovering things which were hidden from him all this time, dare to revolt, curiosity for forbidden etc.
The novel starts with the new born baby Ghanshyam muttering the ‘F’ Word to himself, of course, at being disturbed while sleeping. Thank god the author went by nature’s establish norm of not giving words to baby otherwise this baby Ghanshyam would have non stop uttered all the slangs and restricted words. But the author has generously used F words throughout the novel. It might appear cool and normal to today’s teen readers but it certainly gave me a bad taste.
The book is about teenager school going Ghanshyam and Vikram whose teen’s hormones are playing games and are smitten by girls around them. Both didn’t have much luck with girls but were doing well in their studies. Their life takes a leap when two rich brats Armaan and Sandy join their school. They all together are drinking, smoking, racing, betting, escaping punishment by having contacts with high profile people, sleeping around, partying till early mornings, fighting with parents and leaving house.
Drinking and smoking by teenagers is such a menace in continents like America, a trend which is fast catching up in India as well but more among college goers. Schools at secondary and higher secondary level still have some control. But the author instead of presenting it as a teething problem portrayed as a cool factor throughout the book.
All the characters, girls and boys were acting like college going fellas instead of high school students. Characters are not acting according to their age. I think the author might have forgotten that most of his characters are high school students.
Minimum age of obtaining permanent driving license in India is 18 though one can start legally driving from 16 with parent’s consent. And in the novel Armaan is shown participating in illegal racing and then dying during one such fatal racing. Ghanshyam driving a Royal Enfield. These things doesn’t fit with my mindset.
Also teachers and even principal are spanking and hitting students. Which school or parents allow such violence even if the kid is breaking all the norms of decorum. Characters were not relatable and sadly it never reminded me of my school days.
For me school days are full of dreams, pranks and sharing, participation and inhibition, winning and loosing, friendship and rivalry, exams and results, falling for pretty teachers and detest for strict teachers, rewards and punishment, cheating and bunking, eating others lunch, following latest fashions and fabs etc, learning about many f words but still feel afraid of using them publicly. Such anecdotes are worth recalling. Of course there are many things which we thought of doing for the first time and it is those things which the author has included in his book.
Also the plot is set up in Baroda, now known as Vadodara which is in Gujarat, a dry state. But characters here are shown consuming alcohol openly without any inhibition. What I am trying to say is that characterization and plot setting is real faulty such blunders are so glaring even for a first time author.
Loosing virginity, of course only when it is mutually consented, is an exhilarating experience. There is joy in pain. It’s like attaining a meditative mode where one’s mind goes completely blank and thoughtless and what remain is a divinity feeling. The author failed to bring out such a feeling when the lead character looses his virginity. May be the author was busy playing with the guilt factor. But it shouldn’t have overshadowed that special feeling. Describing a sex scene is never necessary but sensuality is essential.
The plot of the book might not be impressive but same things couldn’t be said about his writing. It is a well written book and the author writes seamlessly and effortlessly. I found his thoughts on life and death to be though provoking and mature. After Armaan’s death, Ghanshyam’s goes into a depression and refuse to come out of mourning mode as he thinks it will be cheating with Armaan’s memories. It is very true in real life as well. But life goes on and surviving ones have to flow with it keeping the memories of the departing loved one close to the heart.
Someone who loves YA genre will definitely enjoy reading Teenage Diaries The Days That Were.