by Shane Thamm
Ford Street Publishing. Australian, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $19.95
Jack is a typical seventeen year-old going to high school in Queensland. He surfs, fixes up cars, plays footy with his mates, and is having trouble with girls. Only one problem – Jack’s body has a hole in the middle of his chest – pectus excavatum (PE).
My Private Pectus is the story of Jack, “Sticks” to his mates. Most boys his age have lots of problems but Jack’s problems are compounded because of his abnormality. Only his best friend, Gez, knows about it. Jack’s dad doesn’t care much anymore due to migraines from an accident in the army, although he does want Jack to follow in his footsteps into the military. Jack’s mum moved out years ago. So Jack spends all his time with Gez and Gez’s older brother Ryan.
Then Gez gets a girlfriend and another girl, Sam, seems interested in Jack. But Sam’s past is a problem and Jack fears the reactions of his mates. Jack is becoming increasingly paranoid about his PE and reads too much into everything around him. When his feelings for Sam change and he can’t understand what it all means, he ends up isolating everyone - including Gez and Sam.
This is a comical book that most young adult men will feel a connection to. The rites of passage, body-image issues and peer pressure are all part of Jack’s journey of self realisation. I read this in three hours and laughed, cried and gasped. I have recommended it to my own “sticks”.