Tag Archives: parents

UKYA Review: Mind The Gap by Phil Earle

Mind The Gap, Phil Earle, (Barrington Stoke, Jan 2017)

Genres in the mix: contemporary

Age target: YA

Story basicsWhen Mikey’s dad died, something in Mikey died too. He loved his old man and he never stopped dreaming that one day his dad would land the role of a lifetime, prove them all wrong, and rock back up to the estate in the flashiest car anyone had ever seen. Now there’s just numbness, and not caring, and really, really stupid decisions. He says the worst of it is that he can’t even remember his dad’s voice any more. Eventually Mikey’s best mate can’t bear it any more, and so he sets out to give Mikey the memories – and his dad’s voice – back.

Review-in-a-tweet:  Gripping and emotive tale of mates and choices. ‘Super-readable’, sharply contemporary, realistic; will strike a chord with many teens.

The emotional ride: Obviously, at times this is tough. Mikey’s pain over losing his Dad is clear, but it is generally quite understated. It’s more about the immediate problems of Mikey acting stupidly because he doesn’t care about things any more, and about his mate’s quest to find a way to give Mikey his dad’s voice once more.

Hot buttons/classroom opportunities: The biggest opportunity this book (and others from Barrington Stoke) offers teachers is the chance to get students reading for pleasure. It’s a genuine gift in that department.

At Yr 11 Parents’ Evening last week, I had this along with The Liar’s Handbook and Unboxed from Barrington Stoke, (and some other YA titles of various kinds) on my desk ready for the ‘but I don’t know what to read’ moment, and it was brilliant to be able to show them the fantastic package that these little books are to make them super-readable:

  • clear sans-serif font
  • tinted pages (one mum said ‘I have dyslexia and I can see those words – I couldn’t on the sheet of exam dates you just showed me’)
  • short chapters and overall book length
  • stories by authors already successful for this age group, not teachers or ‘dyslexia experts’
  • topics and themes found in other YA novels, nothing simplified in content, only in readability

Several students took photos of the books, to be able to buy them later/find them in a library – yay!

Main character: I’d say it’s impossible to read this and not be behind Mikey 100%, even when he’s being an idiot (and he really is, at times). Phil Earle makes you understand why he’s being an idiot, so you just feel for him even more (that’s part of the ‘not simplified content’ thing about these books – they require an emotional maturity, but the reading age is only 8. No mean feat!)

Hearthfire rating: 9/10 A scorcher!

Mind the Gap is out now in the UK from Barrington Stoke, who kindly provided me with a review copy.

Accepting a review copy does not affect my view of a book and I only finish and review books that I feel able to recommend.

I’m counting this review towards the British Books Challenge 2017: my third for the challenge.

Memorable Parents in UKYA

For many reasons – not least the need for teens to be free enough to do things – parents are often absent in YA novels. So, I thought I’d celebrate some cool parental characters in recent reads. OK, so some of them are not actually the character’s birth parents, but sometimes that’s the important thing.

parents titles

Parents getting it right

These are the parents that fly the flag for good parenting. Loving and supportive, if not always perfect (since they are human…), these are the good guys of UKYA parenting.

Pearl’s Dad in The Year of the Rat

Poor man – bereaved of his wife and with a new baby and a not-always-coping-terribly-well teen daughter, Pearl’s Dad has it hard. I think one of the multiple things this novel succeeds at is extending reader sympathy to many of the secondary characters as well as Pearl, and Dad certainly has that.

Foster and adoptive parents in Blood Family

One of the many, many strengths of this beautifully written novel lies in the characters of Eddie’s foster and adoptive parents. There may be mistakes made, but for a wonderfully human depiction of learning to live together and care no matter what is thrown at you, this is a fabulous read.

Parents we’re glad aren’t ours

(or that we hope we’re not like, for the more mature YA reader like myself…). Not actually cruel and abusive parents, but those that are just downright getting it wrong.

Blossom’s parents in Weirdos vs Quimboids

OMG. How much would you die if your parents danced naked in the back garden at each full moon? I loved this not-so-gentle send-up of hippy vegan right-on parents. Poor Blossom!

Taylor’s Dad in The Weight of Souls

I really liked that, instead of the standard urban fantasy/chosen one type trope of the family being unaware, Taylor gets a Dad who utterly refuses to accept her position of being ‘marked’ by ghosts to make her help them resolve their deaths. Despite her curse being inherited from her mother, he has spent most of her life searching for a cure for the skin disease and associated mental illness. A nice additional layer of complication for poor Taylor.

Find out more about these titles at Goodreads: