Sunday, 8 February 2009

Schooled by Anisha Lakhani

A while back I reported that a real life version of Gossip Girl would be hitting the big screen and that it was based on a book called Schooled which delved into the world of the elite private schools in Manhattan. The book is written by Anisha Lakhani, I also promised you a review and well here it is. Schooled is based on Anisha's own experience as a teacher at a snooty school in New York. Her alma mater, Anna Taggert enters the system all bright eyed and bushy tailed planning to enrich her students' lives with the prose of Shakespeare. Unfortunately, instead of being greeted with gratitude she is faced with hostility from her students, parents and fellow tutors. The unwritten rule at Langdon Hall; the school that Anna teaches is that there is no level playing field and grades are dependent on a student's surname and postcode as opposed to their efforts. After all this is a place where students have designer clothes, handbags, iPods and Blackberrys and as much cash as they desire. Meanwhile Anna has to struggle to meet her rent payments on her tiny apartment in the wrong end of Manhattan. So it is no wonder that she jumps at a gig to privately tutor one of students after all she needs the cash right? Her delight soon turns to horror when she realises that 'tutoring' is just a coy term for blatant cheating and that her role really is to do the work of the privileged student to make sure that they graduate and go on to an Ivy League college. Anna is initially disgusted by the immoral life that she has moved into but the lure of the money is too irresistible. Pretty soon she has clocked up several more clients and is taking home more money in a week than she does on a monthly basis in her full time job. I think it is safe to say that Anna gets totally sucked into her new lifestyle which now consists of Lanvin suits, Sass and Bide jeans, Chanel clutches to go with her all new $1,000 haircut. She also trades her shabby apartment to a sleeker one in Madison Avenue -Anna is going up in the world. However, as we know all good things come to an end and while she is raking in the cash it is at the expense of her social life and morality. Suddenly she has to choose on which route to stay on.

I came across Anisha Lakhani in an article in Gawker and was initially drawn to the obvious comparisons to Gossip Girl. A few chapters in I realised that there was more to this book than the lavish lifestyles of the rich Manhattanites. What Schooled brings to us is a tale of ideals and how easy it can be for those ideals to be corrupted. Not only does Anisha's tale explores the underworld of an unfair private education system where money seems to buy anything it also concentrates on the kids who have been failed by their thoughtless parents. Schooled is a compelling read due to Anisha's narrative which is very accessible and I would say that her constant dropping of designer names and her student's opulent lifestyle is very Gossip Girl (esque). No surprise to hear that it was the Gossip Girl books that inspired her to write Schooled and get the story from the other side out. We all love a good kiss and tell story and this is one in it's finest form. Move along The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries, there is a new kid on the block called Schooled who is after your crown.

1 cool comments:

Agnes Deer said...

I really want to read this book now!