!! potential spoilers ahead. read at your own risk !!
by Chris Miles
Genre: Young Adult, Humour
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 7 February 2017
Balls and all!
Jack Sprigley isn’t just a late-bloomer. He’s a no bloomer: an eighth grader, and puberty is still a total no-show. Worse yet, he hasn’t heard from his friends all winter vacation. He assumes they’ve finally dumped him and his child-like body—until he finds out it’s much worse than that. His friends are now so far ahead of him that they’ve started dating. Jack is out of luck. But then he comes up with a plan to catch up and win his friends back. And his plan is perfect: he just has to fake puberty.
Praise for SPURT
“Hilarious, addictive, brilliantly-warped… like Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen crossed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid” ― Stuart Gibbs, New York Times bestselling author of the Spy School series
“Funny, heartfelt, and likely to appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys on the cusp of puberty” ― School Library Journal
“A refreshing take on body image, acceptance and the need to fit in. The novel’s moments of profundity are subtle yet powerful, and masterfully balanced with humour. Spurt is appealingly naughty.” ― Books+Publishing
I basically devoured this book*, mostly because it was really easy to digest. Compared to most books I read where the characters have the “fate of the world” on their shoulders or are fighting to see another day, the main character of Spurt is worried about not getting his freaking pubes.
*…in three days, but have you seen my reading progress lately?? it’s as slow as my revision progress (I think I really need to reflect on what on earth I’m doing with all my free time if I’m not reading or studying)
Maybe I haven’t hung out with boys much in primary school or we were all too busy with exams, but I never thought that puberty would be something to worry about. It’s just something that happens. It’s one of the things you blame when your height or whatever physical traits don’t meet your standards. But in my experience, late puberty was never an issue. Nevertheless, despite my inability to empathise with the character’s worries, this turned out to be a light-hearted and rather innocent read with my main thought being “Doesn’t he have better things to worry about than a late puberty???”
Jack Sprigley is entering eight grade but he’s the last one in his batch that has yet to hit puberty. And so he sets out with one goal in mind: to fake puberty. This lead to some really awkward moments and scenes that made me smile at the characters’ silliness. However, in order to fake something, some lies have to be told. I liked how the build-up was done gradually. It all started with Jack telling his friends that he was busy during winter vacation satisfying his “newfound urges”. Later on, a catalyst* comes into the book and helps Jack prove to everyone that he has truly become “man” and the lie get blown even more out of proportion till it finally comes to bite Jack back in the ass. I felt that the ending was a rather surprising one, with slight backstabbing**, Jack finding some unexpected allies and some revelations.
*technically, there were two, but one was done for comic relief
**probably not an accurate term to describe what happened but… something along this line
The characters were all easily loveable, especially Philo, the supporting friend who brings more trouble than help (I couldn’t stop picturing him at Phichit and the name doesn’t help one bit). However, I felt that some of them could be developed a bit further. Like Reese and Darylyn (two out of three of Jack’s best friends) are just “friends turned lovers” to me, with Reese being “that other male friend”.
(From pages 78 – 79)
“So, dude. We . . . kind of heard about what happened.”
Jack noticed Darylyn roll her eyes. Had she been expecting Reese to say something else? Had they actually come looking for him so they could fess up about their beforeschool rendezvous?
“It wasn’t what it looked like,” said Jack.
A bunch of tenth graders walked past. “Hey, it’s Jack Spankley!” one of them shouted.
Jack did his best to ignore them. “I mean, lots of things aren’t necessarily what they look like, right?” he said, looking at Reese and Darylyn. “You might see two people walking along and think, ‘Is that person holding hands with that other person?’ or you might see something else that’s totally innocent and think, ‘Hey, is that guy touching himself inappropriately in public?’—but actually, you might be completely wrong. And that’s exactly what’s happened here. Everyone’s got it wrong.”
He was about to gesture emphatically to drive home his point, but remembered he was still holding the merkin. He leaned against the lockers again to make sure it stayed hidden behind his back. “I mean, you don’t really believe I’d . . . do that in front of everyone, do you?”
“I don’t know, Jack. Yesterday you said you were doing it for the entire break,” said Darylyn.
“Okay, fair point,” said Jack. “But that was just . . . Look, it’s under control. It’s just a normal amount of completely nonpublic masturbation, the same as any other teenage male who has definitely hit puberty. I promise. Cross my heart.”
Reese and Darylyn stared at him expectantly. Jack stood where he was, leaning against the lockers, not moving.
“Dude, are you crossing your fingers behind your back?”
“No!” said Jack.
Reese shrugged. “Well, whatever.”
Chris Miles has written several books for young readers in Australia. His short fiction and other writings have appeared in publications throughout Australia. He works as a website designer and developer, and in his spare time he indulges his love of Doctor Who, LEGO®, Dungeons & Dragons, and anchovies. He is a dog person (though not literally).
This giveaway is open internationally and ends on 10 April 2017. Enter the rafflecopter here for a chance to win one of 5 copies of Spurt by Chris Miles.