This book is the first in a series and it is funny, sad, thought-provoking, interesting and an excellent read. I rarely laugh out loud when reading but I did with this book. It’s a worthy addition to a summer reading list.
Set in South Africa at the time Nelson Mandela is released from prison and apartheid is being dismantled. Spud in a 13 year old boy starting at a new boarding school. He is clever and thoughtful and a diary writer – this book is his diary of his first year at the school – the sport, the teachers, the books, his successes, his failures, the friendships, the bullying, the girls and his whacky family. Along the way he comments on the changing political situation in South Africa.
The tone of this book pulls you in – friendly, funny, thoughtful and, at times, sad. Spud’s life is populated with whacky characters – perhaps more than most – but his descriptions of these people and their behaviour mean that they do not become caricatures but are believable and real. The backdrop of the changing political situation in South Africa, and the reaction of different people to it, provides an interesting, thoughtful and informative edge to what it a hugely enjoyable, at times laugh out loud and at times quite emotional story.