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) *****