Review Blog

Jan 30 2019

Things that will not stand by Michael Gerard Bauer

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Omnibus Books, 2018. ISBN: 9781742997582.
(Age: 13+) A quick, optimistic read for year 9 or 10 boys and girls. Themes; friendship, identity, first love, trauma. University open days allow year 11 and 12 students a chance to learn more about courses, university life and maybe imagine changed pathways beyond school. Sebastian, unsure of what he wants to do, is looking at a course in town planning, a 'safe choice' endorsed by his parents. His best friend Tolly is interested in science and medicine so they split up and at a lecture Seb sits next to an attractive girl, who borrows his pen. They have a brief conversation about a classic movie showing after the lecture so he buys his ticket to Casablanca and waits in the foyer hoping to meet the girl again. When she doesn't turn up he tries to give the ticket to the next girl who enters the foyer, Frida, looking like a character from 'Frozen' with a part shaved head and piercings. She guesses he has been stood up and challenges him on his reasons for offering her the ticket. Just then the first girl enters the foyer but it is soon apparent that she is seeing another movie with her boyfriend. To save him from embarrassment Frida spins a story about them being best friends since he saved her life in kindergarten and they see the movie together. After they drift into getting to know each other over lunch and when Tolly joins them the quick, creative banter takes off. Sebastian's 'safe choices' are challenged by Frida and somehow they find themselves joining her for a theatre sports event. When Tolly leaves for an interview Frida continues to quiz Seb about his life while giving little away about her own. Things come to a head when a boy from her school harasses her and after he is brilliantly put in his place by Tolly, Sebastian challenges Frida to tell him the truth about herself. However she would rather leave the reality of her life behind and try out different versions of herself in this new environment. As they get to know more about each other Sebastian is sure he wants to get closer to the real Frida regardless of her background, a challenge for both of them before the day ends.
This funny, appealing story emphasises the opportunities offered, post school, to leave aspects of your life behind and re-invent yourself. The characters are witty and hopeful; their motivations commendable.
Sue Speck

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