By Alan Gibbons (Orion)
Gary, John, and their dad are lost without their mum, who died in a car accident. Fourteen-year old Gary feels locked in his own pain which is made worse by his falling grades at school and his inability to come to terms with his mum’s death. He begins to go off the rails, getting involved with local thugs and teetering on the brink of being on the wrong side of the law. Older brother John has committed to hiding his own grief to support his brother but he is also wrestling with the GCSEs (matric) and his huge crush on the gorgeous Olivia Bellman, leader of a group of cool girls nicknamed The Paradise Set because “that’s what they’re like: four gorgeous Birds of Paradise.” Luckily he has a friend in Yvette, the braces-wearing, rosy cheeked friend from his childhood. He thinks of as her as his kid sister. Until they are made to act out Romeo and Juliet for an english class.
The strain of carrying the burden of his brother secrets and feeling like he has to hold up his dad who has started dating again, weighs heavily on John. And all of them begin to fall apart with the helpless anger and sadness of losing the heart of their family. As the book builds to it climax, the local Liverpool petty crime scene is bought to life and young readers will feel the rawness of the emotions of these ‘lost boys’.
It’s worth checking out award-winning author Alan Gibbons other books which tackle often powerful emotions and real life situations from gun crime to bereavement and racism. He is adept at exploring the often complex emotions young boys feel. As one reviewer put it: “Alan Gibbons is committed to writing books boys will read…No film or televising could compete with the immediacy of this intense plotting.’