Simon Butters provides a fictional piece which explores many confronting issues faced by young people in today’s fractional and dysfunctional world. He writes in a style that bounces across very deep issues, often with a whimsical edge, and acts as a mirror to the feelings and lives of many young people in a contemporary setting.
Even the cover design is significant in the way it draws the reader into the world of a fifteen year old young man, struggling with his own self-loathing and dysfunctional family. Upon completing this novel, I noticed the darkened corners and the slightly used visual texture of the front cover, which matches with the feel of the story.
The use of social media comments to both distract and join lines of thought is creative, giving a thread to the story which provides an unexpected twist, showing a sad sunshine at the end of a grey book. The main character, Monty, acts as the narrator and shares his life through his thoughts and emotions, colouring events and allowing the razor sharp hazards of school, family and teenage life to string his story together.
This book is not easy to read. It is well-paced and written, but due to the anguish experienced as this young man travels through many mental health issues, the reader can feel discomfort and extreme sadness for him. I found myself putting the book down, remembering people who I have known and who have experienced similar issues in their lives and then being drawn back to it to see how Monty overcomes each new obstacle.
As a book pitched for young adults, this book makes raising awareness a priority and works to allow others to feel less alone.
Reviewed by Leanne Caune
Rating out of 10: 7
Publisher: Wakefield Press
Release Date: May 2016
RRP: $24.95, including GST