Book Title: Tradition
Author: Brendan Kiely
Total Number of Pages: 352
Publisher: Penguin UK
Publication Date: 1 May 2018
Genre: Fiction/ Young Adult
Link To Book: Amazon
REVIEWED BY SOHINEE DEY
I have read very few novels set in a college or a school and the handful number of books in such a setting which I have read were all college or school romances. But ‘Tradition’ is nowhere near to being a full-on romance novel and it was definitely a good change for me.
‘Tradition’ by Brendan Kiely is a very important novel when it comes to its concept. This book gives us an insight on the darker side of tradition and what holding on to such traditions could do. The story is set in a boarding school, the Fullbrook Academy, which is known for its aristocracy and high-end extravagance. It is an elite school which can only be afforded by privileged people. But beneath all the glitz and glam, there are secrets which the school hides in the name of tradition.
Holding on to certain cultures and traditions is of course necessary but normalizing traditions which are wrong in their essence gives rise to a faulty system. At the crux of the story, ‘Tradition’ tries to call out on rape culture and how these people at the academy have let such iniquity to thrive under the name of tradition. No one should be this honour bound that they can’t differentiate between the right and wrong and even if they do they think they are entitled to follow such traditions or doesn’t have the guts to call out the injustice because living within a system is much easier than standing out of it.
The book is mainly aimed at teenagers. Even though we have finally started talking about sexual violence openly, it is still a crime which haven’t really decreased in number. It still happens, and people are still getting affected by it.
The narrative switches between Jules Devereux, a senior at the Fullbrook Academy and James Baxter, who newly joined the academy on a scholarship.
Jules is a feminist who believes in women empowerment and Brendan Kiely had tried to show this in many of her small actions towards her peers. Jules is what you call the perfect student. She has excellent academic records and has certain goals which she wants to achieve. She knows where she is at the moment and where she would like to see herself in the future. She doesn’t have time for sports nor does she want to turn into one of those cheerleaders who are crazy after the “sport stars”; she isn’t interested in any of the dirty politics nor is she interested in swooning over any of the boys at the academy for that matter.
Jamie, nicknamed as Buckeye due to his massive built is not the usual jerk kind of a character nor is he shown to be extremely handsome and popular within the girls (which happens in campus romances most of the time). He is the privileged one at the school who has been offered a second chance. Jamie could join Fullbrook because his earlier coach called in a favor. He could only get there because he had connections and due to this, he considered himself to be the spoilt kid. Jamie is the one who has a past and secrets that he is hiding. He has several issues he has to deal with but he tries to keep himself in check and not give into his emotions because it could be damaging for his career. He tries to live up to the second chance.
Other than Jules and James, the protagonists, there are a handful number of character who fleets in and fleets out of the narrative from time to time.
As we all know that different people have different ways of thinking, the dual perspective narrative helped me to see how these two characters of opposite genders reacted to the situations, what they thought as right and wrong.
Jules and James, both have been silent until now even though they noticed and have been victims of the corrupted system at Fullbrook and the unfair behavior of the people living up to the customs and traditions. It is only a matter of time till everything becomes unbearable for these two people, especially for Jules, who had to face extra problems in the male dominated academy.
‘Tradition’ doesn’t shy away from the topics that it tries to address. There’s so subtlety in the narration, there’s no sugarcoating of words, there’s no beating around the bush and thus it was a very uncomfortable reading experience. But, much needed. It is dark for sure but the kind which we need to know of and be able to acknowledge them because the issues are true to life.
The book is divided into before and after the “act”. I am not going to disclose any of it because it would be a spoiler.
I can gladly say that I liked the book and moreover, it’s written by a male author and being able to write about the different perspectives so well was something which I absolutely loved. The narration has a good flow and the short chapters could hold on to all the details without being lengthy and thus, it didn’t take me much time to complete the book. The cover also goes well with the theme of the book.
As for the characters, I felt that Jules could have been presented in a better way. She appeared to be selectively feminist but harbored the same type of stereotypical thoughts other times which made her look bad. Most of the time she appeared to be emotionless. For this reason, even though I was able to connect with the prose, I couldn’t really connect with her character.
‘Tradition’ is blunt in its approach and calls out on chauvinistic behavior and a corrupted system. Even though it’s a very uncomfortable read, I would recommend everyone to read the book because the message that the book tries to deliver, needs to reach our ears.
POESY IN CHRYSALIS RATING: 🌟🌟🌟.8 / 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
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