Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Boys Don't Knit by T S Easton (Young Adult, 9/10E)

2nd January 2014, Hot Key Books, 288 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Content: Strong language, teen infatuation, teen boys' obsessions, some fighting 

Summary from Hot Key Books
Ben Fletcher must get to grips with his more 'feminine' side following an unfortunate incident with a lollipop lady and a stolen bottle of Martini Rosso from Waitrose. All a big misunderstanding of course.

To avoid the Young Offenders unit, Ben is ordered to give something back to the community and develop his sense of social alignment. Take up a hobby and keep on the straight and narrow. The hot teacher he likes runs a knitting group so Ben, reluctantly at first, gets 'stuck in'. Not easy when your dad is a sports fan and thinks Jeremy Clarkson is God. To his surprise, Ben finds that he likes knitting and that he has a mean competitive streak. If he can just keep it all a secret from his mates...and notice that the girl of his dreams, girl-next-door Megan Hooper has a bit of a thing for him...

Nayuleska's thoughts 
My enjoyment of knitting (albeit mostly crochet these days) is the only reason I started reading this book. I kept picking it up as soon as I could between unavoidable life tasks like sleep and a job because it is a fantastic read. Ben has an entertaining view on life. I'm happy to report he isn't drowning in teen angst - most of his concerns are valid. Who wants to be bullied? Who wants to be petrified of telling a family member about something they love? No one, but Ben deals with that and more. At first it seems like he hasn't got a lot of supporters, but they are there, just mostly in the background or being total nincompoops until Ben really needs them.

Not a lot of change happens between Ben and his little sister's relationship, but several others have profound changes thanks to Ben taking up knitting. Guys tend to be good at practical skills involving spatial awareness and Ben is immensely skilled in how he knits. I'd never thought it was possible to do what he does with a pattern! I chuckled when he slow started to enjoy checking out new yarn arrivals in the knitting shop, how he thought more and more about knitting, often in preference to mature magazines.

I confess to being wary of how much objectionable content might be in Ben's tale. There is a fair bit, but  I glossed over his friends' thoughts and exploits (the novel his friend writes is awful!) and focused on the friendships that are created thanks to accidentally assaulting the lollipop lady. Ben struggles against knitting competitors who use dirty tactics to succeed, but with the aid of some goats and a giant needle he ploughs on to a superb ending. I'm delighted there is a sequel, as I'd love to see what happens next. After all, Ben's dad's reaction is ridiculous. I was taken aback by it. Not every boy likes football! How Ben's mum deals with her husband made me smile, as did the entire book. It only loses marks for the mature content, and I hope more guys take up knitting because it is a fun hobby, very good for stress reduction. 

Suggested read 
An equally engaging, if a slightly more serious read is Last Chance Angel by Alan Gutteridge (Young Adult, 10E/10E)

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