‘I don’t have my headphones on yet, but the music is always in there. I have a constant walking soundtrack to my life you see. There is a song for everything.’ In the decade of grunge and Britpop, 13 year old Danny is a music fan in the making. He is also on a mission to deter unsuitable men from his beautiful single mother. With his best friends behind him, a soundtrack in his head and first love on the horizon, things are looking good, until local nightclub owner Lee Howard comes on the scene and sweeps Danny’s mother off her feet. What do you do when your mother is dating a real life monster and no one can see it but you? A dark and powerful drama about friendship, music and the choice between escaping and fighting back.
The Boy with the Thorn in His Side is a gritty and real feeling story set in the mid-1990s and is about a teenage boy going through the usual struggles teenagers do, plus a whole lot more.
Danny is a teenage boy with attitude and a self-destructive streak, which initially annoyed me. Sometimes I just wanted him to keep his mouth shut and his fists in his pockets, but I gradually got used to it, and watched Danny mature as he was put through hell by his mum’s horrid boyfriend. By the end of the book, Danny and his friends felt like they were my friends (of my own past teenage self).
While there is a dark and brutal side to this story, it also felt very nostalgic, due to me being a teenager at the same time this story was set. Teenagers drinking alcohol, taking drugs, and the music, it was all about the music. As a teenager I lived for rock music, going to rock clubs and hundreds of rock gigs. I loved seeing live bands. I got such a thrill from it. I wasn’t a fan of most of the bands mentioned in this book, as I wasn’t that keen on indie or grunge, but I do remember the day Kurt Cobain’s death was announced, and my friend Jon being absolutely devastated. I can still picture that part of the school corridor we were stood in while the two of us talked about it. I felt really sad for him, as he worshipped Kurt.
I was more into rock (including classic and glam rock), liking bands such as Guns ‘N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Poison, Skid Row, Soul Asylum, The Almighty, NIN, Little Angels, No Doubt, Bush, Skunk Anansie, Moist, and Aerosmith. However, the one song that went round and round in my head throughout this book, was Bullet with Butterfly Wings, by The Smashing Pumpkins (I still love that song), as I thought some of the lyrics and the anger in the song really reflected Danny’s feelings and frustrations throughout this story.
This book is rather long, two books in one really. At first I wasn’t sure about the length. In the early stages of the book, things seemed a little slow and repetitive, but at the same time, that’s what life is like, so I wasn’t bored by the long story, probably just fretting about all the other books I need to read and review by the end of March. In fact, as the story progressed, I found myself needing to know what was going to happen, but at the same time really not wanting it to end.
There are some great and believable characters in this book. By the time I reached part two of this story, I was fully absorbed in the lives of the characters and felt like I was there with them, wishing they would listen to me when I screamed at them to do something. Part two felt more tense and brutal, and I even had tears in my eyes at the end.
This one is definitely highly recommended by me.
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