Boys don't knit by Tom Easton
Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471401473.
Highly recommended for early adolescents. This is an unexpected, (considering the title) quirky and cleverly contrived novel set in Ben's last year of secondary school in England. The inauspicious title draws the reader's curiosity for knitting is not commonly connected to boys. Written from Ben's viewpoint, his adolescent worries about girls, acceptability from mates, a crush on his English teacher and bullying are threaded through the storyline. Initially forced to do community service after a confrontation with a lollipop lady, (school crossing lady) Ben lands in the knitting class thinking that Miss Swallow (on whom he has a crush ) was taking the class. But he had that wrong. And so began a weekly saga of knitting lessons. Ben found he actually enjoyed creating patterns while talking to the rest of the group. Except for his Dad. How could he tell him when he was a staunch Chelsea soccer fan? Mum is a stage magician and travels but agrees to keep Ben's knitting a secret from Dad. So, what with his mates making clever puns on knitting, 'she certainly stitched you up' p228, he knits a sweater for Miss Swallow's soccer star boyfriend, wins the local then state championship amidst the bullying boys from his class who try to sabotage the meet. Dad and Mum turn up as well as the lollypop lady whom Ben has befriended.
Humour flows through the story with a young person's frustrations ever present. This is a wonderful example of turning adversity into a happy and positive experience along with lots of laughs and chuckles. The language is vibrant and expressive, belonging to a young person but with a maturity all can relate to. A most enjoyable read.