AUTHOR = A. J. BETTS
GENRE = GROWING UP, SCHOOL, FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
INTEREST LEVEL = YEAR 12
The humour in this novel ensures that it is a most entertaining read. In fact it should be required reading for ALL year 12 students as it manages to take a humorous look at the stresses and strains of year 12 without trivialising the issue. There is no doubt that the main character, Oliver, is a stresshead of the highest order. He knows excatly what score he needs to get into the mining engineering course he desires, and he knows just how much study is needed. So when his books are lost on the train trip to visit his Dad’s for swot vac, Oliver is nearly beside himself with worry. How can he study without his text books??? But in his obsession with this magical score, has Oliver lost sight of what really matters in life?? Slowly, Oliver begins to look at study and his goals with new eyes. He realises that choosing a course because of the pay packet may not bring great rewards. He realises that stress can come in many forms and that taking a more relaxed approach to life does not necessarily mean you are a failure.
There is a lot to enjoy in this novel. Betts is a poet and this is evident in some of the lyrical descriptions in her novel. She also has a good ear for dialogue and humour. The physics quotes that begin each chapter provide food for thought for the reader; are they a gentle mockery of Oliver’s current state of being? of the theorems he is struggling to learn? or a commentary on the diference between textbook study and life lessons??
An engaging novel for older readers. And if you enjoy this novel you might also like Measuring Up (in which another teen grapples with year 12 and the future beyond school).
Recommended (dma) ****