Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Teen read review : Boy Meets Hamster - Birdie Milano

Hiding behind the cute and quirky title Boy Meets Hamster is the ultimate coming-of-age novel that everyone, teens and parents alike, needs to read, whatever their sexual orientation. The parents are brilliant role-models for how to navigate the tricky teen years as parents, and 14-year-old Dylan and his best friend Kayla are the perfectly imperfect heroes of the tale - never giving up when life gets tough, always staying true to their values and never letting the bullies get to them (not for long anyway).

When his mum collects up the coupons for a £9.50 bargain-basement holiday and gaily announces that they're off to Starcross Sands caravan park for a fun family break, Dylan doesn't have high expectations - but it turns out that it's even worse than he ever imagined. The facilities aren't up to much, his parents want to let their hair down and hand over the babysitting duties for his wheelchair-bound little brother and he even ends up falling out with his best friend who's come along to keep him company. There is one redeeming feature though - a blond hottie in the caravan next door who Dylan immediately has his eye on on. And his name is Jayden-Lee.

Having a crush and not knowing if it's reciprocated is a typical teenage drama, but Dylan has the added worry of not knowing if the object of his desire is gay like he is. To make things even more traumatic, he hasn't revealed his homosexuality to his parents yet. Despite her feisty, kick-ass personality, his best friend Kayla has her own Achilles' heels too - a big birthmark on her face that she hides behind thick makeup and bright pink hair, along with a plus-size figure, that make her an equally popular target for the bullies. As the holiday progresses, lurching from one disaster to the next, both Kayla and Dylan grow into their skins and come to terms with their identities, even finding holiday romances into the bargain.

It's not just a heart-warming and frequently light-hearted look at coming out though, and you definitely don't need to be gay (or confused about your sexuality) to enjoy it. The book also looks at all sorts of bullying and ignorance, including disabilities and physical appearance, as well as reminding readers that we often make mountains out of molehills and worry over huge issues that turn out to be non-events. While I never stayed anywhere quite as bad as Starcross Sands, it did make me fondly remember childhood holidays in similar campsites, although mine were largely drama-free. (I think my biggest drama was dropping a newly-bought Cornish pixie keyring down a grate and having to fish it out with a coathanger. Definitely no giant hamster mascots in my time !)

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books; Main Market edition (14 Jun. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1509848657
  • ISBN-13: 978-1509848652

Disclosure : I received a review copy in order to write an honest review, along with a stick of seaside rock !

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a book with lots of diverse characters. I wonder sometimes just how good those holidays for a tenner are, for which you need to collect coupons.


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