The Last Bloom is about Priya and her journey of finding herself. She is in college and has always been a straight A student. As she enters Baranpur University for further education her idyllic world is shattered with the totally different and politically active environment.
This book is her crossing into the practical world that awaits us all when seeing through the illusions they have as youngsters. She along with her friends, Ashi, Keya, Anwesha and Renela try to stay above the unions and unrest that mars their education. Sadly it has become a part of the system and the decay is everywhere as they soon find out.
The author has presented a very balanced view of how college life is governed by politics and what an integral part it has become. More so in regional colleges where the National standards are not upheld and politics is the way to securing a good result in exams. Sadly it does not prepare us for the real life. Poulomi Sengupta has deftly highlighted why the education system is failing our students. The sea change from school to college and the lack of guidance for many leads to disaster. Even though there are a few minor errors in grammar in the book but they do not obscure the story and message of the book.
Vivek, her neighbour is another important character that presents the other side of the story – those who got left behind. He has his money to save him yet the students like Uttam, Suvo, Parag, Jeet, Shweta and Swaha present the other side. They are with no money, no family support and a regional or state board of education – all these hinder their progress and many do not even want to learn and grow till it is too late. How each of them matures and venture out into the world, find themselves or not is the crux of the story. The motto of their university is ‘To know is to grow’. Are they able to imbibe this and learn?
The book expresses the angst and troubles, dilemmas and debates of the students very well. However, a bit of proofreading is needed to make is stand out since it has a few typos. I liked the way the author describes people, surroundings and views in the book. She links them so perfectly to the geology that they are studying about. Her smilies were bang on too! Though as a reader who knew nothing of geology this was a bit like a mini-course in geology and rocks.
“I stopped the rheum welling out of my eyes with a vehement effort.”
“I was literally dazed by the volt of vehemence that a thin sugar cane stick like body can throw out.”
“The talcum powder coloured, straw shaped girl, with splintery textured sparse obsidian black waist length hair, nodded in agreement.”
Priya was one of the lucky ones – she has her family to guide her and advice her at the crucial moments. The author has touched upon failure, suicide and students leaving studies incomplete due to fear and insecurities. She presents an impartial view for us. The book shares the trials yet it focuses on the positives. This book is very relevant in today’s educational scenario when there is too much pressure on students and too little assistance and advice.
“All I had done in my college life was to battle against a politicized and corrupt educational system, armoured by my privileged schooling, augmented by the fact that I could stay at home.”
The Last Bloom is a metaphor for the students that come for an education and find growth, maturity and learning at the University. Do they value it? Do they realize the importance of these crucial days and years?
Read The Last Bloom and revisit your college days. Was your youth similarly filled with studies and strikes or was it all about education and learning. This book amply demonstrates that the seeker will find if s/he is determined enough.
This review first appeared on Tell-A-Tale.
©Inderpreet Kaur Uppal
THE LAST BLOOM
“‘The Last Bloom’ is a story of Priya, her dreams, aspirations and struggles to fit into her new college life and its politics.
Priya was ecstatic, as she was admitted to her dream college.
All her visions of adventurous rock climbing trips, long night jollification with bosom friends, class bunking in lieu of movie shows, tasting lip smacking street side delicacies with classmates—a new exciting world would now unfold before her! But college is different from Priya’s idyllic dreams.
In an environment as opposed to that of school, exposed to an educational system, which is controlled by political unions, will naïve Priya be able to survive without any political protection? Caught between the college hero Suvo’s charming words and her acrid tussles with conceited college dropout Vivek, will immature Priya be able to differentiate between cajoling false comrades and brutally honest well-wishers?
Often degraded by the skittish Shweta and saved by the blunt rebellious Aashi, will Priya be able to identify her friends and stand up for them, against fierce opposition? As Priya undertakes her journey of self-discovery, will she succumb to her deep-seated fears and insecurities or will she survive the ultimate test of time?”
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