Review by Rebecca Ford, JCSP Librarian, Collinstown Park Community College.
“We’re rich!” said Mum, leaping up with Freya still in her arms and beginning to dance around the kitchen.
“We’re rich! We’re rich! Goodbye, Stevenage! Goodbye cramped, boxy little house! It’s going to be a whole new life! Nobody believed he could do it but he did! He made it! We’re rich!”
“How rich?” said Ethan.
“Comfortable” said Dad.
“Stinking” said Mum.
“Not stinking, “ said Dad. “Mildly smelly”.
“Can I have a new phone?” said Ethan.
And so starts Sam’s new life in London, where everybody seems delighted with the new arrangements but him. He’s fifteen and was perfectly happy with his cramped, boxy little life. But he now has to adjust to life at the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented. Where he feels like he is the only student who is ordinary and proud of it.
This is the extremely funny tale of how Sam manages to survive his mother’s various forays into creative expression (including her blog about him!), the teachers and students at this school that seems to come from another planet, and his sister and brothers’ instant success in this alien environment. All Sam wants is not to feel so strange for being ordinary, and for aspiring actress Jennifer to fall in love with him.
I hugely enjoyed this book. It is genuinely very funny, and is written in a chatty way that makes it so easy to read. The best thing is that it doesn’t feel like it is trying too hard to be funny. The writer has a great style that is totally authentic to Sam’s character. I flew through it, and would certainly recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or Dork Diaries when they were younger. It may even be something for fans of David Walliams books. This is for older readers, but shares the same kind of laugh-out-loud humour as these books.
If you enjoyed this book, I would definitely recommend that you visit the classic that it is most on par with – The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend. I’m off to try one of William Sutcliffe’s other YA books now, maybe Concentr8, or We See Everything. “The Gifted…” is his only comedy YA novel to date, but I sincerely hope he writes some more!
Young Adult Fiction