DO REAL MEN CRY?

boys don't cry

TITLE = BOYS DON’T CRY

AUTHOR = Malorie Blackman

GENRE = IDENTITY, GROWING UP, SEXUALITY

INTEREST LEVEL= YEARS 10 AND UP

This is a gripping and gritty novel about two brothers (Dante and Adam) who take it in turns to tell their stories.  As the cover suggests, the focus for much of the novel is on Dante, whose life is turned on its head when he discovers that at just 17 years of age, he is the father of a young baby daughter, Emma. As Emma’s young mum feels she can no longer cope with a baby, Dante is left, quite literally holding the baby. And we watch as Dante struggles to cope with the new responsibility and the new direction of his life. And whilst his dad offers practical suppport Dante can’t help but feel is father’s disappointment. However, during the last third of the novel, Adam’s story gradually comes to the fore. Adam wants to live life out loud and he is open about being gay, a fact that Dante and his dad tend to ignore (Dante going so far as to suggest this is just a passing phase). However, not all of Dante’s friends are willing to simply ignore Adam’s sexuality, and this is brought home to the family in a brutal fashion. So Blackman cleverly explores not only teen pregnancy and family relationships but also issues of homophobia, as well as the confusion of those young men who cannot accept their own gay feelings. As Dante observes, boys may not cry but real men do – both gay and straight men need to open up and ask for help sometimes. And in this family, baby Emily provides a welcome key to unlocking men’s tears and bringing family together. Whilst this is ultimately uplifting novel, those readers who don’t like violence might find parts of the gay storyline difficult to read. For this reason, the novel may be more appropriate for slightly older readers.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Fun and games … and babies

amelia odonohueTITLE =AMELIA O’DONOGHUE IS SO NOT A VIRGIN

AUTHOR =HELEN FITZGERALD

GENRE = HUMOUR, GROWING UP, FAMILIES

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9, 10

This is an unusual novel. It begins as if it is in the Lousie Rennison mould (Angus things … Georgia Nicholson diaries) – first person narration by a teenage girl with quite a sharp and funny approach to life. Like Georgia Nicholson, Rachel is quite scornful of her parents and the village where she lives. However, unlike Georgia, she is far from boy crazy – in fact, she seems quite intent on using the path of academia to escape from both her family and the coastal village where they currenlty live.

When her parents finally relent and send Rachel off to boarding school, increasing her chances of gaining good enough grades to go on to medical school, life begins to take a strange turn. First she becomes the recipient of everyone’s secrets, then she seems intent of keeping all at arms length as she increasingly narrows her life to study, study and more study. Even when she meets a lovely young Indain lad in the local village.

Finally events seem to spiral out of control altogether when Rachel discovers a baby hidden in a wardrobe at the school. Eventually the reader is likley to guess at what has gone wrong before our heroine, Rachel. And so the novel takes on amore serious issue than the flippant title and humorous tone may have suggested.

Quite an unexpectedly rewarding read. Teen girls are sure to appreciate the twists and turns and the satisfying conclusion.

Recommended (dma) ****