Books Magazine

Review: Waiting for Gonzo by Dave Cousins

By Bethkemp @BethKemp

Teen realism with humor and heart: strongly recommended for teen boys and girls

Review: Waiting for Gonzo by Dave CousinsDave Cousins has done it again! I was so impressed by his 15 Days Without a Head, in which he manages to portray life for a teen forced to take on responsibilities for his alcoholic mom in an entertaining and emotionally warm way. Here again we have a teen boy center stage as his family 'goes through some stuff'.
Oz is a great narrator and main character. He tells us his story in the format of a letter to 'Gonzo', whose identity becomes clearer as the book progresses, using the past tense as he's looking back at a string of events and evaluating their impact on his life as he goes. This structure allows the writer to invest relatively minor events with considerable importance with the benefit of hindsight. I particularly like how Oz manages to see all the things that have happened to his family as essentially his fault: a chain of events instigated by a fairly minor act of vandalism. His sense of responsibility and ability to admit to his mistakes are endearing, and also show how much he's matured through the events described in the book: the Oz looking back and contextualising everything that's happened is much more self-aware and thoughtful than the Oz drawing a moustache in an inappropriate place at the start of the book.
It's easy to see that Oz is a good guy deep down, if a bit hapless and - at least initially - rather selfish (what teen isn't at times?). He's in a new and very unfamiliar area - a city boy transplanted to the sticks, starting at a new school where he doesn't know the social rules and norms yet and desperately wants to make friends. Music is very important to Oz as he struggles to fit in in an unfamiliar environment, and some of the songs mentioned in the story have been created especially and can be listened to at the author's website. It's a brilliant idea, and really helps to get into Oz's world.
Dave Cousin's gift is the ability to inject humor into difficult and sad situations without reducing their emotional impact or showing any sign of not taking them seriously. I think he's a particularly strong writer for boys, who may (unfortunately, in our society) find it difficult to pick up books which emphasize relationships and emotions above all. Those are the very things his writing deals with, but wrapped up in a witty and lively package which makes the emotional angles are more subtle. At the same time, his writing isn't what I would call 'laddish' - it doesn't exclude girls and the humor isn't absurdly silly or overly bodily-function-focused like you see in more cynically-targeted 'boys books'. His characters are, above all, entirely believable and relatable, and that's the key to the warmth of his writing, I think.
Overall (as I think is fairly obvious!) I'd recommend this book very highly to 12 year olds and above. I'll certainly be recommending it in schools.

From the back cover:

Stranded in Nowheresville?
 - check
Stalked by Isobel, the school psycho?
 - check
Befriended by a kid who dresses up as a hobbit in his spare time?
 - check
Oz likes a laugh. It's not his fault some people have no sense of humor. But when a joke backfires, it triggers a chain of events that messes things up BIG TIME.
****************
Publishing 7 March by Oxford University Press
Find more information at Goodreads
My grateful thanks to the publisher for sending me a proof copy for review

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Trump Scores High On Psychopathic Personality Inventory

    Trump Scores High Psychopathic Personality Inventory

    The chart above, from The Telegraph, shows the Psychopathic Personality Inventory score of some rather heinous historical figures. Read more

    12 hours, 33 minutes ago by   Jobsanger
    POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Love Only Supports Virtue?

    Aratthukke Anbu Sarbenba Ariyaar; Maratthukkum akdhe thunai - Tirukkural The ignorant think love is only a support for virtue; it is also a support for ridding... Read more

    13 hours, 36 minutes ago by   C. Suresh
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Beautiful Baroque Style Inspiration Shoot

    Beautiful Baroque Style Inspiration Shoot

    Today we are sharing with you a beautiful baroque style shoot in Italy. A garden was transformed into a fairy tale setting inspired by Marie Antoinette’s period. Read more

    14 hours, 37 minutes ago by   Eleni Balkouli
    LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL, WEDDING
  • Beautiful Wedding Video in Mykonos | Hannah & Yoni

    Today, we’re travelling to the beautiful island of Mykonos, where Hannah and Yoni created the wedding of their dreams. The couple decided to have a wedding... Read more

    15 hours, 37 minutes ago by   Eleni Balkouli
    LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL, WEDDING
  • Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

    version; Everyone loves homemade chocolate chip cookie. Do you?To me, enjoying yummy chocolate chip cookies is like having a hug and giving away chocolate chip... Read more

    The 09 December 2018 by   Zoebakeforhappykids
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Scottish Hampers for a Foodie Christmas

    Scottish Hampers Foodie Christmas

    Fine Scottish fare makes a great festive gift Hampers of food always make me think of Christmas but if you’re The post Scottish hampers for a foodie Christmas... Read more

    The 09 December 2018 by   Emma
    DESTINATIONS, DINING OUT, FOOD & DRINK
  • Reliance Jewels Guwahati

    Reliance Jewels Guwahati

    To me, accessorizing is the most fun part of an outfit. Righteous Selections. Rock Solid Elegance. Let our style shine brightly with Reliance Jewels, Jewelry... Read more

    The 09 December 2018 by   Chayanikarabha
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE, SHOPPING

Magazines