17 June 2009

Malcolm & Juliet

by Bernard Beckett

The Text Publishing Company. Young Adult. Paperback rrp $19.95

Malcolm & Juliet is a funny story all about sex. Teenagers and sex to be precise. And Beckett delivers the story perfectly.

Malcolm is a sixteen year-old nerd, geek and his greatest ambition is to win the National Secondary School’s Science Fair. He came second last year and second isn’t what Malcolm wants – he wants to be first. He wants the recognition that he thinks he deserves. But what project will give him the “visual punch and an all-important topicality” that the official judges’ report told why he failed last year? Sex!

Sex was topical. Sex lent itself to visual presentations.

Juliet is Malcolm’s friend and is being blackmailed. She needs Malcolm’s brains to think of a plan to come up with the money. Between Malcolm’s project and Juliet’s needs, can sex save the day?

Then there is Charlotte, Kevin and Brian. Charlotte likes Malcolm. Brian likes Charlotte. Kevin likes Brian. Malcolm likes Charlotte. Brian likes Juliet. Juliet doesn’t like anybody! With all this teenage confusion and angst Malcolm’s “documentary” on sex might just open up the mysteries of it all.

Malcolm & Juliet is a book you need to read alone because when you laugh, it will be a big belly laugh! It is a revealing side of the awkwardness of teenagers and their habits.

Malcolm & Juliet won the 2005 Young Adult Fiction award in the NZ Post Awards for Children and Young Adults, the 2005 Esther Glen Award from the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa and made the 2005 Children’s Literature Foundation of New Zealand Notable Books List.

Bernard Beckett’s book Genesis was reviewed in Issue 7 of The Reading Stack.

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