Archie is a teenage boy. The story opens as Archie has discovered that despite having apparently enjoyed a happy marriage to Archie’s mother, his adored father has come out as gay. Thereafter the question is whether Archie will come to terms with this fact or will prove incapable of doing so. There is also a subplot. Tia, a girl that Archie likes, had a brother Tatham who died by suicide on the railway track behind Archie’s house. A second question is whether Archie can help Tia find peace from her grief.
This book is a searing and no holds barred exploration of Archie’s descent into deep depression and suicidal thoughts. The text is marked by extreme homophobic prejudice and profane language in which the boys communicate one with another. The language gives the impression of veracity.
Pitcher’s book is brave and honest, dealing with a topic more cautious authors shrink from. This reviewer found only one reason – though an extremely important reason – to give this book less than a five star rating. Archie has an older sister Maisie. She refers to something she dislikes as ‘retarded’. This word is as problematic as the homophobic language employed by the boys. Yet the narrative poses an unfavourable verdict on the characters who use the homophobic language. Maisie uses her unacceptable language without rebuke.