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As Boys Become Men — by Mukul Kumar

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Pages: 232

Price: Rs. 250 INR(Paperback), Rs. 172 INR (Kindle Edition)

ISBN: 978–8129138521

Buy here: https://amzn.to/2JwGBF7

Freedom, friends and fun. That’s how most of us remember our college years. But for those studying to get into the coveted Indian Civil Services, college life acquires an additional layer. As Boys Become Men revolves around three such boys, Mihir, Uday and Sandeep, who set out together to crack the Civil Services exam. Narrated by the thoughtful and intense Mihir, this book explores college life, friendship, romance, leaving home and adjusting to a new environment, and describes how negotiating the path between dharma and desire, love and lust, can be tricky.

A sparkling story of the bond between a boisterous trio, the book will take you on a journey of discovery, where boys become men, and students become civil servants. In the course the book also ends up telling us what not to do when writing the Civil Services exam. A slice-of-life tale with a ‘Mona Lisa’ flavour that offers fun and romance aplenty, this book also imparts philosophical truths that will help every young person out to discover life.

About the author:

Mukul Kumar is a civil servant belonging to the 1997 batch. An Indian Railway Traffic officer, he is presently working in the Ministry of Railways, New Delhi. He has studied humanities from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University. He also writes poetry in English. The anthology of his English poems titled The Irrepressible Echoes was published in 2012. He has also been awarded the Life Membership of the Poetry Society (India). As Boys Become Men marks his debut as a novelist.

My take on the book:

Mihir who is a government employee has just shifted to a new place and is unhappy about not getting an official accommodation. But his unhappiness is not just about his job or the accommodation but something more that has been bothering him. His wife suggests that he needs to explore his other interest — writing, and what best to bring from life to words than his own struggle and journey of preparing for the Civil Services Exam. Thus Mihir goes back in time recollecting his life from coming out of college to preparing full time for the Services, the time spent with his roommates and close friends and ultimately how the young boys turn men and crack this exam.

The story goes back and forth recollecting the time when the friends come from Bihar to Delhi like a majority of middle class boys aspiring to make their mark in this competitive and brutal world. The story is not just about the college fun and bromance of the men but about more serious and practical issues faced by young people when they shift to a new place and struggle to adjust to the circumstances. Of course the book is also a primer on the do’s and dont’s for aspirants who have the sole purpose of cracking the Civil Services.

The story is not just filled with drama hence can feel slow at places. Also, the writing and narration style of the author are different hence it will take the reader sometime to get pulled into the book. While there are many books coming out with college backdrop, the main characters Mihir, Uday and Sandeep are sure to win hearts in their own way.

If you are also an aspirant like the protagonists and if you are looking to pick a book which is realistic and different from the glossy college stories, then this one is a must read.

“I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset” https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in

My rating: