Alex Woods is seventeen when he is pulled over at the Nothing to Declare lane at Dover. High on Diet Coke and with a glove box full of home-grown pot and an urn full of ashes his only travelling companion, for once he really needs his bizarre, clairvoyant single mum.
It may seem that the universe is against him. Alex is the sort of kid who gets bullied and bashed up at school but for sheer grit he literally and figuratively takes some beating. Once he has met and formed an alliance with the local recluse, Mr Peterson, he becomes one of life’s heroes.
The foul-mouthed, ill-tempered widower is inveigled into hosting a Kurt Vonnegut book club in his living room, while young Alex learns a good deal about life, death and personal courage. It’s a learning curve he began when struck by a meteorite crashing through the roof of his home. This “freak accident” created a media furore and a passion for space and science in Alex.
The boy’s unlikely friendship with the old man is the kind of shared relationship that skips a generation or two. There’s warmth, understanding, humour, compassion.
This is a story well told, peopled by irresistible characters – a great first novel. Read it and you’ll laugh, cry and eagerly await Extence’s next book.
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