Book Title: Boys
Author: Malorie Blackman
Genre: Teen & Young Adult, LGBT+, Realism
Published: March 2010
Star Rating: ★★★★★
As usual with Malorie Blackman, Boys Don’t Cry deals with issues that people face on a daily basis due to society. In this case, the story focuses on two teenager brothers, Dante and Adam.
Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman
Dante has everything waiting for him. He will be getting his A-level results soon and off to university… Only, his ex-girlfriend, who he hasn’t seen for a while, visits with an infant. Melanie leaves Dante with the baby, saying she’s just going to the shops… But the hours tick by. And Dante is left wondering if baby Emma is his?
Adam is Dante’s younger brother. He is gay and tries to open up, but any and all attempts lead him to be attacked and hospitalised. This could ultimately lead to Emma being placed into care.
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 his child. This makes a strong opening as Dante has to choose between his future and a child he never even wanted.
I’d imagine this is to challenge stereotypes that it is the woman who must give up her career or education when they have a child. Emma has come into Dante’s life at a crucial moment of his life and now he has a responsibility of choosing what to do. Just as I imagine many ladies have in the past.
Dante is in denial that Emma is his and attempts not to bond with the baby. Instead, he decides to order a DNA test to find out the truth. But when Social Services threaten to take Emma away, he realises he can’t help but love the baby.
Dante struggles to look after Emma for the few hours he is alone with her and is
Dante He tries not to bond with Emma but realises it is too late when Emma’s time in the family is jeopardised. 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.
I love Tylor. He is a single-parent dad. Not only that. He is a GREAT
Tylor comes back from work to find a baby in the living room. He listens to Dante and then gives him a lecture about being careless. Lecture finished, he goes to the store and buys everything Emma needs, which I think is great. He deals with the situation without making too much fuss. And when Dante seems to be failing at parental responsibility, he puts him on the right track.
Honestly, we need more characters like this.
Tyler is a single parent after losing the boys’ mother to cancer and so has raised them both up single-handedly. And it’s just beautiful.
Adam takes to Emma immediately, treating her like a member of the family. He takes pride in his looks. He is also a member of the LGBT+ community and is often bullied because of this. On his birthday, Adam and Dante go out to celebrate, which leads to Adam being attacked outside the pub and hospitalised.
Adam’s character then begins to change. He hides in his room, stops spending time with his niece and is afraid to leave the house. He also believes that his injuries will upset and disturb Emma so he doesn’t want her to see him. However, Emma has other ideas and comes to see him anyway. The scene is just another beautiful moment.
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 by a group of homophobes.
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. Many of the stereotypes are turned on their heads, except LGBT. But I feel that the way it was handled, showing the psychological damage, was brilliant.
Definitely worth a read.
Before you go
Next week, I will review either: The Selection by Kiera Cass or The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman. Let me know preferences in comments and don’t forget to follow me on here, on facebook or on twitter