Book review | As Boys Become Men by Mukul Kumar

Author: Mukul Kumar 

Genre: Drama

No. of pages: 215

Published by: Rupa Publications

Published on: 14th March 2016

Format: Paperback

My rating: ★★★☆☆

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.

The book starts of with Mihir complaining about his frustration with his government job to his wife Ruchi and his inability to find peace within. Ruchi then probes Mihir to pursue with his love for writing and Mihir decides to give it a go by narrating his life story where he along with his two intimate college friends, Sandeep and Uday, dive into the path of preparing for their Civil Services exam.

As Boys Become Men is a book about Mihir's journey in Delhi along with his friends to face India's toughest exams. With this comes Mihir's journey of falling in love, building new friendships, enjoying his college days of having roadside food and watching Amitabh Bachchan movies, studying with his friends and his ferocious will to make his parents proud.

This is a simple story, a simple book about a boy with aspirations, who came all the way from Bihar to Delhi in order to fulfill his dreams. Along the way the author covers a great deal of what happens in Mihir's college life. The book showcases Mihir and his group of friends and their extended friends and how they used to have fun in 'those' days. Their way of having fun with each other and their simpleton jokes and meddling with each other's personal lives is a refreshing theme in this book. 

The author focuses a lot and by 'lot' I mean, a lot, on the preparations for UPSC. Any readers who are keen on conquering the UPSC exams with find this book immensely useful. From the shops and tuition centres in Delhi where one would get effective notes to crack the exams to the subjects that one should give their greater focus, the book covers everything required for the civil services exams. This part was where I lost my interest, but readers, who want a book that would help them crack their exams and a book as a recreation, would find this book commendable. 

Not only these, but Mihir's views about life, God and challenges, makes this book an interesting read. A glimpse here and there, Into Mihir's love life spices up the book a bit. Overall, this was an okay read for me. But I would genuinely recommend this to people who are preparing for their civil services exam. Not only is this book a helping hand in giving you tips and trick but also this is one good inspirational read. 

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.

I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset


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