Looking at life in a new way

when mr dog bitesTITLE = when mr dog bites   

AUTHOR = BRIAN CONAGHAN

GENRE = RELATIONSHIPS, TOURETTES SYNDROME, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 -12

Dylan Mint is 16 yo and has Tourette’s Syndrome which means he must constantly battle against his tics: especially swearing, growling and howling like a dog. But sometimes, the more he tries to keep these things in, the more they simply want to explode out of him – like a volcano. Stressful situations only make it worse and Dylan feels he has a lot to be stressed about; especially since he overheard the doctor telling his mum that he won’t live past March!!

There is a lot on Dylan’s list to do before March. And as if this isn’t enough, he and his best mate Amir have to deal with the school bully, there is a taxi driver who keeps parking in his Dad’s spot … and his dad is doing another tour of duty. Will Dylan see his dad before March?? With so much going on in his life is it any wonder that his relationship with his Mum seems to be getting worse and Dylan is getting into more trouble than ever at the special school he attends.

Written in the first person, the reader has a unique chance to feel what it is like to walk in Dylan Mint’s shoes. He may not always be able to control what comes out of his mouth but like any teen, Dylan wants to understand the world around him and find his place in this world. He may sometimes speak crudely but beneath this, he is a thoughtful and kind young man, willing to stand up for his friends against bullying and racism.

Often quite amusing and always entertaining this is a wonderful story and Dylan is a very likable character. The language and frank discussions of sex may be confronting for younger readers but older teens are sure to thoroughly enjoy this novel.

Highly Recommended for mature readers (dma) *****

Reputations lost..and found

good girlsTITLE = GOOD GIRLS

AUTHOR = LAURA RUBY

GENRE = GROWING UP, CYBERBULLYING

INTEREST LEVEL  = YEARS 10 UP

Audrey is supposedly “a good girl”. She is an honours student, studies hard and wants to do well. But then she is photographed with her boyfriend doing something good girls don’t do; this photograph is sent via sms and email to everyone at school, it is posted on the web, it is even sent to her parents. In this engaging and credible novel, Laura Ruby explores the hypocrisy and stereotypes behind “reputations” – why are some girls labelled “good” and others “bad”?? Why are girls who engage in sex described as “sluts” yet boys are universally lauded as “players”. And when the spotlight is focussed all too glaringly on you – how do you survive??

This is a thoroughly engaging book by Laura Ruby because the characters at its heart are so authentically portrayed. Whilst the cyberbullying incident is all too credible in the way it unfolds, the strength of the story is that it is the relationships between the characters that lie at the heart of the book and at the heart of Audrey’s journey. For Audrey’s relationship with her friends, her teachers and her parents is well and truly tested. And perhaps most importantly she learns about herself, she learns not to judge others so quickly and she learns to enjoy life again.

However, as the cover warning mentions – there is explicit sexual content in this book so it is more appropriate for more mature readers. Readers who enjoy this novel might also enjoy “Bad bad thing” by Julia Lawrinson as it deals with a similar issues in an Australian setting.

Highly Recommended for mature readers (dma) *****