What I’ve been reading – No Place Like by Gene Kemp

No Place LikeNo Place Like by Gene Kemp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pete is no more than flotsam bobbing aimlessly on the waves, when he fails his ‘O’ levels/GCSEs and heads off to the local community college. Because that’s what kids in his situation do, and he doesn’t have any better ideas. He’s letting life happen to him. But gradually he begins to get his bearings, identify positive influences and helpful people, make a few friends, get a few ideas about things he might actually like and want to do.

It takes longer for him to spot the malign influences, the folks to avoid. Still longer to understand that not all wrong ‘uns can be harmlessly evaded, and confrontation isn’t always optional.

It’s a pivotal point in adolescent life, but Pete takes those first steps, gets a grip on who he might be or become. All without lasting hurt or mortal wound. But for a light, sweet YA novel, it’s amazing how clear it is that that’s partially his own efforts, and partially the merest luck and chance.

This is really beautifully written, simple and clear, economical, precise and extremely funny. The character of Pete’s dad is especially immortal and hilarious, and there are moments of his character’s contributions to the tale that are as funny as anything in Wodehouse.

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