This hugely empathic portrayal of a group of 14 year olds perfectly captures the strange blend of obscenity and innocence of hormonal schoolboys. Even if you aren't a fan of young lads, this long, engrossing read will make you laugh and bring a lump to your throat; the last third is really quite dark but hang in there - there's redemption of a kind for everyone in the end! A rich and rewarding book.
It's the end of the school day; they are walking down the laneway to the Doughnut House. In the dusk the world appears pale and exhausted, like a vampire's been drinking from its veins: the thin pink filament of the just-come-on doughnut sign, the white streetlights like dowdy cotton bolls against the grey clouds, the soft hand-like leaves of the trees with the colours leeched away to match the asphalt.
'What have you got so far?' Geoff asks.
Skippy presses a button. ' "Hi," ' he says.
'That's all you've got after four hours?'
'It's the only thing everyone agrees on.'
Geoff frowns. 'Actually, I'm not that crazy about "Hi".'
'What's wrong with "Hi"?'
'It just seems like the sort of thing my mum would say.'
'It's the kind of thing everyone says.'
'Have you thought about "Hey"? Don't you think "Hey" might be more kind of rockin'? Or "Yo"?'
Dennis and Mario, meanwhile, have fallen behind to debate the merits and demerits of Mario's new phone.