There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…
Confession time again: I don’t particularly like books written in diary format. Some fictional diaries that I have not enjoyed include Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4. Some real diaries that I have not enjoyed include The Diary of Anne Frank (I’m sorry everyone, I really am, I just didn’t connect with Anne at all) and Pepys’ Diary.
It’s not that these are bad books. They definitely aren’t. All of them have hundreds of fans who aren’t me. It’s just that I happened not to enjoy them.
That said, every now and then I encounter a diary book that I do enjoy like Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, The Carbon Diaries and, now, Boys Don’t Knit.
A while ago (last year, because it’s 2014 now, how did that happen?), I met the very lovely and gallant Tom Easton at a party. I wrote about that here. He described his book to me and I thought it sounded awesome.
Shortly after the party, I managed to *ahem* acquire an advance copy of Boys Don’t Knit and I’m so glad I did because it was wonderful.
Boys Don’t Knit is the story of Ben Fletcher, the world’s nicest delinquent. After losing control of his bike and getting into an accident involving a lollipop lady and some shoplifted alcohol (not cool shoplifted alcohol, mind you, very uncool shoplifted Martini Rosso), Ben is on the Fresh Paths Social Contract Probation Journey. This involves keeping a diary, Giving Back to the Community and, most importantly for the plot of this story, taking part in an extra-curricular activity (presumably to keep him too busy to get into trouble). Ben chooses to learn knitting so that he can spend more time with the teacher he really fancies. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with the schedule and she’s teaching pottery instead.
What I liked:
This was a fun and funny story. Ben was a really great narrator, both knowing and naive. He isn’t perfect, but it’s better that way. None of us are, after all. Ben hooks you into the story right away because he’s fun to read about and because you care what happens to him next.
I thought all of the characters were brilliant, even the less important ones. I loved Ben’s mates, who thought he was a total weirdo but accepted that about him, and his parents, his knitting group, his hot teacher and her footballer boyfriend, and, of course, the lollipop lady herself.
The story is an enjoyable blend of things – a bit of a romance, a coming-of-age story and a comedy.
There also weren’t a lot of irritating unimportant moments, which is what usually bothers me in other diary-style books. Tom Easton doesn’t burden us with hundreds of details about Ben’s outfits and what he had for breakfast every day. There were a lot of knitting details that might bother a non-knitter but there was nothing that broke my reading momentum.
There is a great sense of events building up through the story so that the final part is both hysterical and very fulfilling.
What I didn’t like:
There was the occasional thing that didn’t ring true to me as a knitter. For instance, I don’t think it’s possible to knit a sock in an hour. Socks are small items but they’re fiddly and they’re usually made using very fine yarn.
The story very occasionally wavered from being funny into being a little too silly and therefore hard to believe. But not enough to ruin it for me.
I really enjoyed Boys Don’t Knit and thought it was an excellent and enjoyable read. If you like books that make you laugh, this one is for you. Despite his unfortunate taste in fruit (I’m never going to like mangoes, sorry), Tom Easton is a very good writer and I can’t wait to read whatever he writes next.