In this coming-of-age tale set largely in the U.K, a boy named George grows into a man, overcoming challenges and fears as he develops.
The story opens with a description of young George’s visit to the dentist, an activity that is the “bane” of his life. Because he has a second set of “milk teeth,” he sees the dentist more often than most children, and the intensity of the experience stays with him for life. Nonetheless, George learns to cope and as an adult even looks forward to dental visits.
As a teen, George overcomes his fear of water and at university discovers a new appreciation “for all things watery,” including kayaking. He soon befriends Leo and Stuart. Dubbed by Leo “the three stooges,” the trio share a sense of humor often leading to mischief. As George matures, he falls in love, studies abroad and pursues a career, learning some hard lessons along the way.
The book’s preface sets readers up for a tale grounded in psychology, but while there’s often a challenge met or lesson learned, the chapters read like day-in-the-life sketches as opposed to psychological studies.
The author’s descriptions are often notable, such as portraying the neighboring homes: “…every dwelling abutted against the next all the way to the bottom, where an enormous wooden buttress construction … struggled to keep all the other houses from falling over.” But the prose can also be overly wordy and puzzling, as in this description of Ali, a new acquaintance: “Her very curly black tresses graced a lily-white neck in open topped blouses, pinched in on her tiny waist.” American readers will also struggle occasionally with British terms, such as “bollard,” “fathom out,” “bung,” etc.
Stronger editing could enhance this uneven novel. Still, those who enjoy college pranks and the challenges of maturing will find some rewards here.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.