I was contacted by the author who asked if I could review his book – and a thoroughly nice chap he seemed, so I was very happy to 🙂
As you know, being given a book to review does NOT prejudice my impressions of it.
The book is about Richard Trick (but nobody uses his first name!) who is a black teenage boy, growing up in an all-white sleepy Devon town in the early 90s.
The book is part coming-of-age and part crime thriller as he and his older mates get involved in drugs, girls and stuff they really shouldn’t be doing (stuff involving guns and armed-robbery!) and find that they’ve bitten off a little more than they were intending!
Trick isn’t a bad kid – he’s definitely going to be the only one of his mates that’s likely to get into Uni – he’s just easily led astray.
I loved this book, it felt so real, written from the heart, effortless as if you were just having a chat with the protagonist – things like “People in town complain that we’re a gang but I’m not sure we qualify. to be honest we’ve never discussed it.” I guess that Sean Hancock has written a lot from his own experiences as it flows easily. I’m not suggesting he committed armed robbery as a teenager…but he can always correct me on that! 😀
Having been a rather ‘foreign-looking’ child (with a strange name) growing up in a very very white middle-class village in the 70s, I could understand some of the prejudice and casual racism that Trick encounters – hell, I remember spending a lot of time showing kids my passport in an attempt to prove I wasn’t a ‘Paki’.
Being a girl, I was a little surprised by how much the boys talked about which girls they’d had etc and took the piss out of Trick for being a virgin – are teenage boys really like that? It’s a long time since I’ve been a teenager. Perhaps there wasn’t much to do in Devon in the 90s (I have a friend from Uttoxeter who always says that sex was all they had to do as teenagers back in her time!)
Anyway, it was a great easy read, with a lot of action and underlying threat and a lot of just boys being boys, but amusingly. Made me long for summer days out on my Grifter, cycling through the rape fields (the grain, not the crime). Although I kind of guessed the twist in the tale, it didn’t really matter and certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment.