Mum and Dad are at it again. They’re doing that thing where they make food-based double entendres all the time, thinking it goes over our heads. It goes over Molly’s head, she’s only six and she never listens to Mum and Dad anyway. I guess it used to go over my head too, when I was little. But I’m older now, and more sophisticated. I know what they’re up to and it makes me want to vomit.
Published by Hot Key Books in January 2014
Pages - 277
Meet Ben Fletcher: an Adrian Mole for a new generation
Ben Fletcher must get to grips with his more 'feminine' side following an unfortunate incident with a lollipop lady and a stolen bottle of Martini Rosso from Waitrose. All a big misunderstanding of course. To avoid the Young Offenders unit, Ben is ordered to give something back to the community and develop his sense of social alignment. Take up a hobby and keep on the straight and narrow. The hot teacher he likes runs a knitting group so Ben, reluctantly at first, gets 'stuck in'. Not easy when your dad is a sports fan and thinks Jeremy Clarkson is God. To his surprise, Ben finds that he likes knitting and that he has a mean competitive streak. If he can just keep it all a secret from his mates...and notice that the girl of his dreams, girl-next-door Megan Hooper has a bit of a thing for him...Laugh-out-loud, often ridiculous, sometimes quite touching, and revelatory about the knitting world, Boys Don't Knit is a must for boys and girls.
Boys Don’t Knit is the diary of Ben Fletcher, a nerdy sixth former with no street cred, whose (unreliable) friends keep getting him (unintentionally) into trouble. He ends up on probation after knocking over the fearsome lollipop lady, Mrs Frensham. His probation officer – who is stressfully overworked and pinning her hopes on Ben as her only success story – tells him he must take up a hobby class and do odd jobs for Mrs Frensham as part of his restorative justice. (Echoes of Adrian Mole’s Bert Baxter.)
Ben ends up in the knitting class and has to pretend it’s pottery thinking that will be more acceptable to his dad who is into cars and Chelsea. He is amazingly good at knitting and this takes him to unimagined places and brings him unexpected relationships, not least with Mrs Frensham.
Boys Don't Knit is a really enjoyable read. Ben’s voice invites you into his world, with its quirks and problems that he tries his best to overcome. He is like Adrian Mole in that he is not a stereotypical boy but is probably more self-aware, though with an equally dismal love-life and social scene. He is interested in girls but is far from cool. However, his persistence with his knitting and all that entails, shows he has plenty of geek chic. I love him.
He has a great relationship with his mother, a magician who is away on the road a lot. This means he is often at home with his father, without his mum as a buffer, trying to be a good son but feeling like he is always letting his dad down. An insightful look at family life with all its complexities and struggles which are highlighted and exaggerated when you are on the cusp of adulthood.
I'd say the book is a crossover of YA and adult and should appeal to all, whatever gender or age. There are some more ‘racy’ parts and the odd juicy word so maybe not for the slightly younger or less mature. I’d happily let my 15 year old girl read it. In fact I am passing it on to her. (Though I suspect she would prefer it on her Kindle as that’s how she rolls…)
A charming, engaging read that challenges stereotypes with several older, strong female characters and a fantastic knitting metaphor: Take life one stitch at a time rather than the whole pattern at once.