Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review: Teens Talk Growing Up

I had read the first book that started it all, Chicken Soup for the Soul, many years back. The book was an inspiring and entertaining collection of small stories, memoirs, poems and extracts from books. After that came a deluge of Chicken Soup titles that catered to any particular section of readers, like men, women, expecting moms, teens, Indians… When Blogadda suggested this book, Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul: Teens Talk Growing Up for review, I was more interested to find out how the format has evolved through years. 
Authored by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor and Aarti Katoch Pathak, this book as the name suggests, caters to Indian Teens. Teen age is an intermediate period. Teen agers are part child, part adult. They do not have the emotional maturity of adults, nor are their mind free of worry like kids. They start feeling the burden of responsibilities, they does not want parental discipline, they are anxious of getting judged by friends on beauty, brains and riches. And they are always with a point to prove to the world, their peers, teachers and parents which makes at least some them termed rebellious. There is a story in the book were the metamorphosis of an ugly caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly is compared to the blooming of adolescence to youth through teens. I think that metaphor sums it up aptly.
This book is a collection of 101 stories, each about the experiences of teen life, about the angst and troubles faced while growing up, penned by people from all the walks of life. Among the contributors there are movie actors (Sushmita Sen, Amrita Rao), sport stars (Geet Sethi, Sushil Kumar), Fashion designers (Neeta Lulla), movie directors (Tarun Mansukhani), writers (Harsh Snehanshu), Army men, home makers and many teen agers themselves writing about their bitter-sweet experiences of teen age. All the stories are exceptionally well written in a language easily appealing to youngsters, even to preteens who want to have a preview of what lays ahead.
The book is divided into 7 parts. The first part, Facing the Challenges, deals with the many challenges thrown at the teens by the world. Success in exams and sports and challenges in choosing a suitable career path is highlighted in these stories. Second segment Family Ties is about the value of the support system provided by parents and relatives while tackling the teen life. Many lives are turned for better when a father or mother or both stood for what is right for their kids and saw that they achieved it. In the third segment named Going Beyond Prejudice, the stories deal with several prejudices teenagers faces from their peers and even teachers, like that of color, race and economic situation. The fourth segment, In a Lighter Vein has stories that are humorous in content. 

Life is a Teacher is the segment that deals with the bitter lessons that life teaches in the cross roads of life and how it can be turned to the advantage. The penultimate segment called On Dreams and Passions, points out the value of having dreams, making these dreams our goals and achieving them by working towards it. The final segment called Teens today has stories that come straight from the hearts of teenagers. 
All 101 stories, as I had told before, are motivating reads. But on the flip side, one thing that this book lacks is variety. Most of the stories targets on effective usage of teen age to build a good career, academic or in sports. Topping the chart and winning the competition is seen as the most important goal in teen age. But I feel that though it is important to be topper, equal emphasis should be made in other areas of life. For example, it is in teenage that may important developments of sexual changes in body and mind happens, which does not find much scope in this book. Another point is that almost all the stories belong to upper middle class kids residing in urban areas. What about lower middle class and poor ones, and those living in villages? No attempt is made to represent them here.  Even with these shortcomings, I feel this serving of Chicken Soup is quite good for consumption. 
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


  1. I totally agree! You will find my review to be similar! I thought that the book would have been great if it explored teenagers in love, exploring drugs etc as well. And like you said I thought the book focused primarily on the middle class readers too! :-)

  2. Completely agree with you. Just exactly these, were what I felt too about the shortcomings of the book. It completely lacks the Teenage Love part, how it affects your school grades as well as your relationship with your parents! Nice review. :)