Saturday, 30 October 2010
Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman
Synopsis: Dante is nervously waiting for his A-Level results which will hopefully lead to him going to a top university when his ex-girlfriend turns up with a baby in tow. Explaining that she just can't cope with a baby on her own, she dumps the baby on Dante and leaves.
Score: 5 out of 5
I loved this book and read it in less than a day. Like all of Blackman's books, it felt very real and believable. I've not been a teenager in almost six years now (I feel old!), but reading this book, I was transported right back in time. Like with the Checkmated series where she turned racism upside down, Blackman took a cliche and turned it on its head - rather than the teenage mum left holding the baby, the teenage father is. And he gets a lot of stick for it - in one passage that jarred with me as a teacher, social services come calling because surely a 17 year old boy can't raise a baby on his own? Child protection is such a thorny issue, and Blackman had a new take on it.
Alongside the main story of Dante coping with his life being turned upside down, we also get the story of his brother Adam, who is being bullied for being openly gay. Blackman has lots to say about the use of "gay" as a derogatory word as what starts out as this is tolerated by all of Adam's school friends and even Dante but soon turns into something much more serious. There was also hints of Mel, the baby's mother, suffering from post-natal depression - she gives the baby to Dante as she is "scared of what she will do".
But although the book had lots of "messages" and "issues", it was above all a good story. The writing style was simple but with lots of emotional impact and as a reader I really cared about the characters and wanted to find out what would happen to them. It was overall a coming of age story about facing life's responsibilities and growing up and at no point was the reader patronised.