Top critical review
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Entertaining, eventful, empathetic.
on 15 May 2003
This is an entertaining story about three 17 year old boys, each of whom have their own problems when it comes to their sex lives. Being 17, these problems are uppermost in their minds (and in any case, how could they ignore what certain parts of their anatomy are telling them?).
The characters are easy to identify with, most of us will recognise them from our own schooldays. The style of the book makes it easy to read, and the plot draws you along: although maybe I would say it is more well written popular soap than classic serial. The author shows a great deal of empathy with his characters and the problems they experience, and the language seemed about spot on to me. In other words, the book was, I felt, realistic and set in a world a lot will recognise. It seems clear that the author wanted to set teenage readers thinking about their lives, rather than preach to them about the right way to behave.
I personally don't think this will be a medal winner, but that isn't to detract from it being a good read. I also think this unashamed/explicit/relevant (delete depending on your viewpoint) book might appeal to those teenagers who perhaps aren't drawn by many of the teenage titles on the market. Of course, the aim is to interest boys, although I don't think girls will feel left out.
I don't want to give away the plot, but I think it would be reasonable to say that issues covered include a pupil having an affair with his teacher, attempted suicide, image conciousness, parent's separation, a girl who will, a boy who won't, a cancer scare, shoplifting, and many, many attempts to have sex! As you can see, a busy book!
Who is this book for? Well I guess anybody aware of the hype/debate will want to know this! I think most teenagers at 14 will not find the contents shocking or the language unusual, although many of their parents probably will. In short: your view on this will depend on whether you think books for teenagers should reflect the world in which many of them live, or whether you think the books should reflect a moral tone which needs to be put across. Read the book, decide for yourself!
The book may not be an award winner, but I think it will encourage debate. Hopefully it will encourage some new readers too.
(NB the book does contain strong language and explicit themes)