Tigers on the beach by Doug MacLeod
Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780143568520.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Humour. Family relations. Adolescents. Adam is devastated when his Grandfather dies. He was the one who told funny jokes and who laughed at Adam's sense of humour. Adam is interested in Samantha but after making the first tentative approaches starts to wonder if she is the one for him. Her joke about two tigers on the beach is not one that he would laugh at, and she is not impressed when he finds her fall off her seat at a concert hilarious. To make matters worse Grandma has come to live with them and is constantly angry, his parents are fighting about her and his little brother Xander doesn't understand about danger or what is appropriate.
There are jokes galore in this book, some of which made me laugh and some made me cringe. But that was what was so good about it. I realised along with Adam that people can have an entirely different approach to humour but still be tolerant about another person's attitude to comedy and in fact manage to live with it, as did Grandma who affectionately told Grandpa he was 'a total nong' after he teased her about nearly hitting a pedestrian.
The characters in the book shone out. Adam is a caring boy who really wants to sort out his parents' problems and help his grandmother's grief and anger. He works through whether humour needs to divide him from Samantha, and also comes to grip with the evil Stanley Krongold's plans to take over his home, often with hilarious actions. Adam's parents are portrayed sympathetically and realistically as is Xander who sometimes doesn't act appropriately. The introduction of Siggy and Amber in a very minor way at the end of the book will take readers on a journey to read their story if they haven't already.
I loved Tigers on the beach and the way that it made me think about comedy and its role in relationships. The sensitive handling of death and the way Adam's family coped with it and Adam's growing relationship with Samantha also left me with feel-good thoughts.
This book will appeal to a younger audience than The shiny guys and The life of a teenage body-snatcher, and would make an excellent literature circle book.