16-year-old Chris and his three friends have finished their exams and are very ready to celebrate. A weekend trip to the seaside without their parents’ knowledge seems to provide the ideal boys only holiday. However, they fail to anticipate the wrath of the local lads whose territory they are apparently violating and life soon becomes a game of cat and mouse with almost fatal consequences.
Their trip has its lighter moments, however it is heavily flavoured with the dubious pleasures (and painful consequences) of underage drinking and the company of three girls who quickly become important to the boys. Tunstall paints a credible picture of the boys’ first adult-free holiday with deft use of dialogue and scenarios that are all too familiar – nights of excess, days of almost childlike pleasures steeped in nostalgia, the first stirrings of adult preoccupations with image and the opposite sex.
What prevents Out of Towners being merely a sordid exposé is the likeable nature of the protagonists, alternately strutting and worrying about what their parents will say if they are found out. This mix of emerging adulthood and schoolboy vulnerability endears the boys to the reader and makes the dramatic events at the end of the book more plausible. Out of Towners is aimed at boys – and squarely and effectively so.