NZ Children’s Book Reviews reviews “Reach” by Hugh Brown

As we approach the last day of 2012 I am writing my last review for the year. Things haven’t gone entirely to plan and I haven’t quite reached my goal of one review a month but I have done pretty well and have reviewed some spectacular New Zealand books. I am hoping I will get to interview Hugh Brown but I’m afraid that won’t be posted until January. And speaking of Hugh Brown…

by Hugh Brown
reviewed by Katharine Derrick

In the words of Kate de Goldi, Reach by Hugh Brown is a remarkable debut novel and I have to agree with her.

Living with his grandparents, sixteen-year-old Will Clark is still trying to understand why he was abandoned by his mother 5 years ago and why his father keeps him at arms’ length when Conway Jones enters his life. Now he has a new focus but Conway has a boyfriend. Add to this the reappearance of his mother at a nearby commune, and Will’s confusion and frustration deepens. With lively appearances by Hex the milking cow Reach addresses Will’s growing understanding of his world with lightness and humour.

This book is one both boys and girls will enjoy: there’s the nerdy maths guy, the “jock” and the nonchalant girls all the boys seem to be in love with. Will himself borders on the geeky bookworm. Yet underneath the surface each character is quite different from the person they appear to be in the schoolyard.

Brown seems to understand what it’s like to be a teenager – or perhaps he’s remembering what it’s like – either way his snapshot of teenage turmoil is a refreshing look at a turbulent time. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.

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