Thursday, 23 June 2011

Spud by John van de Ruit

I have been a bit over-blogged since the read-athon. Not to mention busy with work! I am quite behind on my reviews, so there should be a few more coming very soon!
Spud is a book by a South African author, about a young boy who wins a scholarship to a prestigious private boarding school. He arrives at the school which closely resembles a mad house, and in diary form it takes you through his adjustment to school, life as a young teenager in 1990s South Africa, his meetings with girls and assorted other adventures.

Now, I first read this book shortly after it came out. A little bit of background information here, is that I played tennis with the authors sister, I grew up in the same area and his mom came to our church. My grandparents also lived about 15 minutes away from the school it is based on. So, when the book first came out, that was the reason I bought it. But I loved it then. I saw the movie at the beginning of the year, which I also enjoyed and decided to reread the series.
Spud is a really mad book, and  has a bit for everybody. It is laugh aloud funny at times, but deals with serious issues that all teenagers face at some stage. There is really a bit of everything and Spud has to face it all - night swims, romance, ghost hunting, mad parents and even madder granny (aka The wombat), being the star cricketer, actor, but failing hopelessly at rugby (closely aligned to god in South Africa),not to mention an insane cubicle mate, demented cat and some really odd teachers. It deals with bullying, issues of identity, self-esteem, romance and even death, all of this is handled in a light-hearted way without getting bogged down in too much negative emotion.
Obviously this book appealed to me for the fact that it really took me down memory lane in a way, and it is quite South African. However I think it would appeal to many groups of people - those who like comedy, anybody who was a teenager in the late 80s, early 90s,  anyone who went to boarding school.
A couple of things which may upset some people - there is a bit of reference to sex in a typical early teenage manner, although there are no sex scenes, it is more them desperately trying to devise ways to have sex. Also, one of the pupils has an affair with a teachers wife, this is not really out there, but is alluded to rather than discussed. There is also a lot of typical boy high jinks and a little bit of violence, bullying etc, although not by the main character. It didnt bother me and my 13 year old has seen the movie and read the book, we had a discussion about the issues and that was it.
Anybody who read and enjoyed Adrian Mole will love this book!
On a totally different note, I am desperate to read a book called Hard Time by Shaun Attwood, which details his experiences of life in prison in Arizona. His blog entries reminded me so much of a grown up Spud! Obviously, much bigger issues dealt with, but his style is very similar.  

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