After a lot of failed efforts with disappointing books, 'To Sir, With Love' came in like a breath of fresh air. It gave me the pleasure of reading a meaningful story written in very good language after a long time. The ones by contemporary authors have such repetitive plots and are seldom free from slang and swear words that I almost had tears of happiness while reading this very heartening story written in flawless language :)
The book is an autobiography where Braithwaite(the author) tells us about his journey as a 'black man' in a hypocritical English society in which racial discrimination and prejudice against black people is deep rooted . He begins the book by narrating how he struggles to find a job in spite of being extremely well qualified and having a wealth of work experience. After repeated failed attempts, he realizes that the real reason behind the refusals is his skin color. The callous attitude of the white people comes as a huge shock to him after his much respected stint in the army and the author has very poignantly captured how he feels at this juncture - the actual state of affairs in society dawning upon him, his future suddenly becoming bleak and the sheer unfairness of racial discrimination.To me, this was the most defining moment in the book.
Now coming to the main plot of the story. Braithwaite then manages to get a position as a teacher in a school which has children from a very poor background and unpolished society. The book thereafter talks about his very eventful journey in breaking the ice with the extremely ill bred children, winning their respect and how he succeeds in making gentlemen and ladies out of that seemingly hopeless lot. He also talks about the challenges he and the white woman he loves face in the hands of society that completely disapproves of the relationship.
Throughout the book, the genuineness with which he talks about the ups and downs in his journey is the main winning factor. It completely draws the reader into the author's life and all that it conveys.Every milestone that he achieves in his professional and personal life is heart rending to read and you can feel the triumph of his successes at each juncture. I would attribute this majorly to the strength of the author's feelings apart from his mastery over the English language. This might not have been possible if it was just a piece of fiction. The fact that the story is the author's personal journey adds authenticity to the emotions expressed in the book and it touches the reader too.
'To Sir, With Love' is not just another story. It makes the reader think a lot while reading and thereafter too. This is the kind of book that broadens your vision, puts things in perspective and improves your mind. I would say it is a must read for all those who love good literature.