Book Review

Book Review: Waiting for Gonzo by Dave Cousins.

WaitingForGonzoMeet Oz . . . he’s got a talent for trouble but his heart’s always in the right place (well, nearly always).

Uprooted from his friends and former life, Oz finds himself stranded in the sleepy village of Slowleigh. When a joke backfires on the first day at his new school, Oz attracts the attention of Isobel Skinner, the school psycho – but that’s just the beginning.

After causing an accident that puts his mum in hospital, Oz isn’t exactly popular at home either. His older sister’s no help, but then she’s got a problem of her own . . . one that’s growing bigger by the day.

Oz knows he’s got to put things right, but life isn’t that simple, especially when the only people still talking to you are a hobbit-obsessed kid and a voice in your own head!

I loved Dave Cousin’s debut novel 15 Days Without a Head so had very high hopes for this book. Within the first few pages I knew he’d done it again, creating a warm, funny and touching contemporary tale with great depth.

Oz, the main character of the book, is a brilliant character – I loved how his actions were almost always well intentioned, but had a habit of going wrong. I laughed as he made his way from one scrape to the next, in between wincing at some of the calamities he created.

One of the central relationships in the book is the one between Oz and his older sister Meg. Whilst they bicker and argue there is absolutely no mistaking the strength of their relationship, as an older sister who has always had a strong relationship with her younger brother I really loved this element of the book. Whilst our lives were never as complicated as Oz and Meg’s I could definitely see the similarities.

I hadn’t worked out the gist of the book from the blurb and so was surprised by the direction the book took, and indeed who the titular Gonzo was. This was all to the good, the potentially tricky subject matter was handled with skill – there’s no judgement, no wringing of hands, simply practical honesty and warmth.

Ryan, the hobbit-obsessed geek, who befriends Oz when no one else at school will was another favourite character of mine. I always love the addition of a geeky character who is there simply as part of the ensemble, rather than to be pointed at and laughed at, Ryan certainly had his part to play and reminded me at times of both myself and other geeky friends.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, one that I’m looking forward to recommending to other readers old and young alike.

Waiting for Gonzo is published by Oxford University Press.

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