Friday 31 March 2017

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

16 year old Marlon had promised his mother he will never, ever go down the same route as his elder brother.

But he’s on a first date with a girl he secretly knows is out of his league.

And he’s taken his first quarter tab of ecstasy.

When they get on the ghost train at the fair, joking about how lame it’s going to be, Sonya is gloriously, seductively alive.

When it comes to a halt, she’s dead, and Marlon has her stash of pills stuffed down his underpants.

Thus begins Marlon’s voyage down the rabbit hole, into the world that all-but killed his brother. His life is turning into a Tarantino film and everything he’s ever known is under threat

Like the Brooklyn of Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper, the London Lawrence portrays is terrifyingly real, rooted in recognisable streets and surrounded by small details that place it firmly in the present day.

Marlon is an utterly believable character. The banter between him and his best mate Tish is sharp and real and exudes warmth even when they’re fighting. The bond between Marlon, his mother and his wounded brother knocks on the head any notion that young men sucked into such impossible choices are all from broken, dysfunctional families.

It’s a book I read in big, hungry gulps, resenting every intrusion that made me put it down. Lawrence succeeds in creating a threat that is viscerally shocking without crossing a line that would take it beyond what’s appropriate for Young Adult fiction. It well deserves the accolades it has received – shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, and longlisted for the inaugural Jhalak Prize.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older, Londonstani by Gautam Malkani, Feral Youth by Polly Courtney

Avoid If You Dislike: Strong violence in a real world setting

Perfect Accompaniment: Lamb Curry (extra hot)

Genre: Young Adult

Available on Amazon

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