It is hard to find books which appeal to reluctant high school age boy readers at the moment which are stand alone and which are not fantasy. I was excited to get my hands on this one via Netgalley and will certainly buy a copy when it is released.
This is Hank’s story. Hank’s mum and brother have died and left him with a broken heart and a broken dad. His dad has taken up with a string of inappropriate, not teenage son friendly girlfriends. Dad drinks way too much and it seems his only interests are baseball and beer. Hank is not into either of those things. As he tries to get on with his life Hank is making his way through high school and is very keen on the popular girl in his year. He decides to make a grand gesture and invite her to the prom. But not just in any ordinary way, he decides that he will write his invitation in sparklers on her lawn. Obviously, she will gaze upon this and be desperate to go with the person who made this awesome thing happen. Unfortunately, Hank underestimates the flammability of the tree he ends up putting his sparklers under, and almost sets her house on fire. He thinks he has got away with his stupid idea, but Peyton an odd girl who lives nearby has seen him and is using the information against him. Thus, Peyton and Hank end up becoming friends, but it is a long road to this friendship.
This novel starts off as a fun romp and ends up dealing with lots of big issues. Abuse, neglect and a serious case of pyromania, but friendship is at it’s heart. These kids really talk to each other. Through misunderstandings and miscommunications and a lot of racing around on bikes, Hank does a huge amount of growing and he is a lovely person and as we come to understand Peyton we feel for her pain. This is a great book with lots of good messages and I loved the humour. Great for year 9 – 11 boys and girls as well.