I was looking for some audiobooks from the library, and was drawn in by the cover of this one. My mind has had to do quite a lot of overtime recently, and I wanted something that I wouldn’t have to think about too much.
Thinking about it now, I guess I’m not really the target audience for a book narrated from the POV of a 17 year old white middle-class lad. However, with a 14 year old daughter – getting into the head of a 17 year old boy was probably way more scary than any horror story I could have picked up!
Narrated by ‘Jasper’, Grow Up tells of the ‘normal’ life of a teenage boy. Girls, sex, drugs, booze, parties and maybe something a bit more – a realisation that this time is where he is coming of age, and that once him and his friends leave school, nothing will ever quite be the same.
Being *whispers indeterminate age* myself, my mid-teens seem an oh so very long time ago. But I don’t think that much has really changed in that time – there were kids doing drugs, a lot of kids drinking too much, and kids sleeping around. I think what tends to surprise me when I read books like this and see things on the TV is how more stuff seems to be done publicly as a group. Yes, when I was 17, most of my group were sexually active, BUT we didn’t do it right there in front of each other – sex seems to be a spectator sport far too often amongst teenagers these days.
There wasn’t much of a story, it felt more like a snippet of life, although it was tied up neatly at the end – just when you didn’t think that it would be. Jasper obsesses about one particular girl at school and his whole time is spent working out how to get hold of her. His relationship with his female best friend is sweet and endearing – but still not perfect. He fucks up just like any (17 year old) bloke does.
There are many reasons not to like Jasper, but I couldn’t help liking him because (as the mother of a teenager), you could tell that he was just being a teenager, and deep down he was going to turn out a decent person.
Now more than two years old, Ben Brooks had the book published when he was just 17. It makes me feel extraordinarily inadequate! There was some great writing in it – some fantastic observations and points when Jasper was being quite reflective and the prose became beautiful. Brooks is likely to have a long glorious career ahead of him!
The audiobook was narrated by John Hasler – and he sounded exactly how I would have expected Jasper to sound – so was a great book to listen to in that respect.
I would definitely recommend it, probably to anyone under 25. But if you’re ancient like me, and have a teenage daughter…keep away, or you might end up locking her up!