How To Screw Up Like A Pro [Book Review]

Posted: August 7, 2014

Abirami Krishnan’s How To Screw Up Like A Pro is like a tightly narrated Bollywood Masala film, that lives up to expectations, and makes us wonder – have things really changed in the past fifty years?

“Most families have their share of rebels, adulterers, addicts, ambitious actors, reformed playboys, lovers of exotic animals and the occasional mute, right?”

The first sentence of the blurb ensures that you pick it up. Who doesn’t want to read about crazy families with a bit of drama and hysterics thrown in? Abirami M. Krishnan’s “How To Screw Up Like A Pro” lives every bit up to the expectation.




This is the story about a family consisting of two sisters, a brother, parents and two grandparents (one maternal and the other paternal), told through the eyes of one the sisters, Akola Suresh. An urbane, Chennai family with not-so-middle-class values that seems normal enough until skeletons in the closet start stumbling out one by one.

A brother with a pregnant girlfriend, a sister who is an aspiring actress, one parent with a history of mental illness and the other with a badly concealed history of an extra-marital affair, kids who address their parents by name, car accidents, and the protagonist who goes into coma, the devoted beau who takes care of her; the story has all the elements of a typical Bollywood pot-boiler.

The mother, Parvati Suresh’s character is the most interesting one. The author very subtly and very successfully highlights her struggles as a first generation working woman, trying to cope as a successful doctor with a rising career, an extended family of in-laws and an adulterous husband during the early days of her marriage. The strain of it drives her to the point of madness, causing her to vent it all out on her child. One can, strangely enough, identify with her character and the reader is left pondering whether things have really changed in the past fifty years or so.

The cover and the title of the book are misleading. The title, especially, gives no hint of the story that is to follow. However, the language is simple and unpretentious, the narration is compact, and each character in the book is well etched out. The book reads like a well-directed, fast paced Hindi masala movie and is ideal for a short flight or a long local train commute.

Publishers: Hachette India

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