On Growing Up is perhaps the very first book published in India pealing with the processes of puberty. In a warm chatty style, Tara Ali Baig begins by giving a thumbnail sketch of the origin of man and then goes on to place man in the context of other creatures of the earth. She then discusses the physical changes that occur in boys and girls as they grow up, and explains how babies are made. This includes a little homily on present-day boy-girl relationships in India and the importance of love in sex. She also speaks of unwanted children and contraception, and introduces the idea of marriage and family ties. All through the book, adolescence and sex are discussed within the framework of social living, which is why this book will probably appeal to parents who want to explain the facts of life to their children in a way that they can relate to their own bodies and lives, instead of perceiving it as a remote biological process.
The text flows easily, and the biological details are padded with comments and details in a friendly style which unfortunately, occassionally lapses into a grandmotherly condescension. But this and the jarring capitalized sentences in the text are minor faults. What is important is that the book has been written at all. Tara Ali Baig has tried to steer a course between a clinical style and chattiness, and, to a large extent, she has succeeded. Perhaps a glossary of biological terms would have been a useful addition.