The Charlie Barber Treatment
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Simon finds his mother suddenly and unexpectedly dead at home. He copes with his shock and grief by isolating himself from everyone except his closest friend, who has family problems of his own. When Charlie comes to the village to stay with her grandmother, Simon is at first uncommunicative but then attracted by her unconventional approach - initially, she makes all the moves. This is a remarkable book - not least for its portrayal of boys as vulnerable, emotional and sensitive. Buy it as a class text for third-year secondary and hope that this is a direction which teenage novels will be unafraid to take. I hope there's a sequel to this stimulating book soon!