In this slender first volume of a fictional trilogy, a boy becomes a man, learning as he goes all the lessons that come with it.
The story is set in England and begins with a bit of boyish mischief as George, the protagonist, and his young friend Andrew sneak dish washing soap bottles from home to squirt water at passing cars. Andrew is an important person in George’s young life, as is George’s grandfather, who always has a special treat for the boy.
In time, George’s parents gift him with the puppy he names Patch. Patch will be a friend for many years, leaving George with warm memories of their time.
At last, George is old enough to attend “a big school,” an experience that will require him to ride the bus. But the first day proves to be a painful disappointment when a girl passing his seat grabs a handful of his hair and “pulled it hard … and again… and harder still.” So painful is the unprovoked assault, a tearful George fears he might lose his hair. Worse, it instills in him an unfavorable view of girls, and he resolves to have nothing to do with them.
But no surprise, as a teen, he finds himself drawn to girls, including an early and unexpected sexual encounter. Later, he’s pursued by an older woman in a relationship that could get complicated.
These are plainly told stories of a growing young man’s life in the U.K. The author does a nice job of taking readers from the innocence of childhood to the curiosity and sometimes confusion of teen life. The scenes here, while short, depict moments many will recognize, including the first near-sexual encounter.
Shifts in time can be somewhat disconcerting, however, and there’s one story, George’s firing, that seems incomplete.
Still, these are otherwise pleasant tales that are likely to appeal to readers who appreciate stories on the quiet side from bygone era.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.