The Bottle-top King
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Stammering Lewis, bullied, struggling to be noticed, longing to prove that he really can do what his mind tells him he can, is hampered by an ambitious mother, overly anxious about his academic achievement and the social status of his friends. Not allowed to develop his self-confidence on the football pitch or in the drama club, he resorts to fantasy footy with his teams of bottle-tops. Reduced to lying to his mother, and encouraged by misfit friends, he finally plays for the school and scores the winning goal in an important game. A range of themes is tackled here, not always convincingly -- I found the relationship counsellor mother (with no time to sort out relationships in her own family) and the self-obsessed actor father who does not support his son's own interest in drama too extreme for example. Parts of the book are over-analytical and expressed in more adult terms than seem likely for the young people concerned, though this may serve to give readers a vocabulary for their own situations. Lewis's self-awareness and inner strength seem unlikely too -- however, their eventual triumph gives readers a good example to follow. An enjoyable and very readable story with likeable characters, humorously told.