My first more challenging choice is Boys Don’t Cry from Malorie Blackman. What you have here is an underrated story from an author who should be a household name. Boys Don’t Cry is superb – another story about real British lives, expertly written and a great read. Dante is seventeen and a gifted student, who is waiting to find out his A-Level results. He’s taken his exams a year early, and is excited about his future. When the doorbell rings, he thinks it’s the postman with his exam results, but he’s wrong. Its his ex-girlfriend Mel and she’s holding a baby – their baby. Shocked and confused, Dante is then left to look after baby Emma while Mel goes to the shop for nappies. But Mel doesn’t come back, and Dante’s whole world caves in. His dad is angry, his little brother Adam thinks it’s funny, and Dante’s dreams of university and journalism are over. How will he cope? And when Adam becomes the victim of bullying, Dante has to decide between his family and his future. Although long, this is another easy-to-read story, which is well worth checking out. It’s funny, sad, heart warming and challenging – all the things it should be. A great, great book.
My second challenging choice is from new author Kim Slater, who like me, comes from the East Midlands. The book is called Smart and it is excellent. It’s about Kieran – a troubled Nottingham boy with a form of autism – whose life is tough. With his mum struggling to cope, and always at work, Kieran is left with Tony – his mum’s unemployed boyfriend – and Tony’s son, Ryan. They are both bullies, and Tony in particular is nasty and abusive. The story begins when Kieran discovers a dead homeless man, called Colin, floating in the River Trent. Convinced that Colin was murdered, Kieran promises to find the killer. And when Kieran makes a promise, he doesn’t give up until he delivers. Using his love of drawing and his unique way of seeing the world, Kieran takes us on a journey that shocks, saddens and eventually warms the heart. Although the main character is a young boy, don’t let that put you off. The themes in this book are very adult and it is a brilliant read. Kieran is one of those characters that you don’t forget and the setting is as real as it gets. A fantastic book.
24 February 2016