The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy & Me by Michael Gerard Bauer
Any book that announces itself with, ‘It all started with The Pain’ has me from the very first paragraph, especially when it’s obvious The Pain is no mere physical discomfort but a deeper agony in the shape of a person; the kind of agony that most young adults can easily relate to!
Maggie Butt addresses her readers directly with a good dose of sarcastic humour, opening a window into the stress and drama of this 15-year old’s tumultuous life. From the outset she’s incredibly likeable: here’s a teenage girl who is sufficiently self-aware to realise that all the whining and black moods of the past aren’t really all that productive; Maggie has all the nous she needs to instigate change.
Naturally, she’s struggling with a number of challenges, both at home and at school. Not only is there her mother’s new boyfriend (The Pain) and his perceived intrusion into her family to contend with, but at school she must somehow get back her As in English, find a date for the graduation dance and make at least one friend.
How she handles life’s challenges, navigates the obstacles thrown in her way and adapts to change is revealed in a light- hearted and entertaining way; Maggie’s got a realistic plan and, hopefully, just enough nervous energy to achieve it. And we’re on her side, barracking for her.
Award-winning author Michael Gerard Bauer has a profound appreciation for the young people he writes about and for; his characters and their dilemmas are always written with great affection and humour. Maggie Butt’s story is no exception; it’s the type of wild emotional rollercoaster any young girl can relate to. And he knows how to write a neat, satisfying ending that young adults will enjoy. Recommended for readers aged 12 and up.
Athina Clarke is a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Malvern.