As usual with Malorie Blackman, this book deals with issues that people face on a daily basis due to society. In this case, the story focuses on two teenagers, Dante and Adam.
Dante is awaiting his university results when his ex-girlfriend, Melanie pays a visit – with her is an infant. Melanie states that she needs to go to the shops and will be back soon. Already, Malorie has turned the story on the head – even though she uses the cliché of going to the shops before abanding a child, she has made the female character use this phrase rather than the male. When Maline doesn’t come back, he calls her – she then states that Emma is his and blocks his number.
Dante had one drunken sexual experience and Emma was the result. However, rather than telling him, Maline left school and cut contact with everyone. Already, Dante has a decision to make – he has to choose what to do with this kid, and what happens to his university plans if she is.This makes a strong opening as Dante has to choose between his future and a child.
Dante struggles to look after Emma for the few hours he is alone with her and is terrified what is going to happen when his dad, Tyler comes home. Tyler is a single parent after losing the boys’ mother to cancer and so has raised them both up single-handedly.
Apart from giving Dante a lecture about being careless, Tylor goes to the store and buys things that Emma will need, which I think is great. However, Dante and Tylor hate to acknowledge that Dante’s younger brother, Adam is openly gay.
Adam takes to Emma immediately, treating her like a member of the family. However, Dante is in denial and starts researching into DNA tests. He also complains about the baby crib being lumbered into his room.
Here we see some good parenting of a male character because Tyler responds by saying that Dante has to take responsibility for his actions, and so Emma has to stay in his room.
Naturally, the social services get involved due to his current girlfriend speaking to her sister who works in social services. Dante then has to prove that he can cope as a parent and has to answer questions on how he expects to cope and support an infant.
When he bonds with Emma, there is a threat that she is going to be taken away, this is made worse when Dante and Adam are attacked outside a pub (as Dante is celebrating his birthday) by a group of homophobes.
Adam’s character begins to change after the attack, he hides from his niece and does not leave the house because of his injuries and because he fears being attacked again. He is afraid that his injuries will frighten his niece. However, Emma comforts him.
I love the character arcs of this book, Dante goes from a terrified, irresponsible teenager looking forward to the freedom of a university to a responsible and loving single parent supported by his family. Adam goes from being openly gay to hiding and then cautiously openly gay – made as a point to show how trauma can affect the character and personality of people. Tyler learns to be more accepting of both of his sons. The story ends with the message:
Boys don’t cry, but men do
The story is well written, an easy and quick read and tackles challenging issues we face in society on a daily basis. Definitely worth a read.
Next week, I will review either: The Selection by Kiera Cass or The Book of Dust by Phillipe Pullman
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