Review Blog

Aug 03 2009

Malcolm and Juliet by Bernard Beckett

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Text Publishing, 2009. ISBN 9781921520327
(Ages 14+)Recommended. A group of 16 year olds in various schools, all with some connection, each with their own idiosyncrasies, are mixed up with Malcolm, intent on winning this year's science prize with his research into the first sexual experiences of his peers. What you get is rather wry, but very funny novel about teens and their activities. Beckett hits just the right note of humour in this look at teenage conduct and his mix of a range of adolescents is masterful, as the climax swings into view.
Kevin lusts after Brian who lusts after Charlotte who lusts after Malcolm, who thinks he has no show of seeing Charlotte, but his friend Juliet who is being blackmailed, tries to setup a sex talk line and lands Brian, who finding out who the voice on the end of the line belongs to, is chasing her. Complicated? No the novel glides along smoothly and wittily, making me laugh out loud as Malcolm asks the oddest of people to be interviewed. At one stage his mum consents to be interviewed and we hear of her first sexual experience, and Charlotte, who is a virgin, details what she hopes to be her first experience, and Malcolm, knowing he could never match her description, gives up on her. Very funny, lots of witty looks at teenage culture, hits at education, principals, predatory males, and culture.
So Romeo, sorry Malcolm, must avoid all the pitfalls of blighted love to reach his goal. His inexperience, combined with his goal of winning the science prize, makes him an amiable protagonist, one we all want to succeed. A marvelous novel for teens of all ages to read and share.
Fran Knight

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