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ISBN 0140255931 / 9780140255935 / 0-14-025593-1
› Find signed collectible books: 'New Boy'
The New Boy of William Sutcliffe's hilariously touching debut novel causes a bit of a stir when he arrives at Mark's posh private school. For a start, Barry is devastatingly handsome and causes girls and boys to buckle at the knees. Mark is more than a little jealous, considering himself to be much less attractive. But he spots an ally in Barry and the two quickly become friends though Mark's feelings for Barry are often confused. For a start, he finds himself lusting after the boy in the showers but refuses to think it's because he is gay. Meanwhile, Barry is getting busy with most of the female population within a 50-mile radius, including an affair with one of his own teachers. Mark quickly realises that if he is ever going to be a hit with the opposite sex, he needs Barry's help. But he learns that Barry is hiding a few secrets of his own.
This wonderfully funny and engaging novel is a fast and captivating read, as Sutcliffe hits so many marks about the clichés of school life. The neurotic teachers, the geeky pupils and the rites of passage will all strike a chord within most readers, and the characters are effectively and warmly drawn. Mark and Barry's relationship is so wonderfully captured; their brief conversations are mainly populated with swearwords and degenerate into arguments by their end. There are examinations of both religion and, more importantly, homosexuality, and it's a comfort to see these issues treated with a respectful sense of humour. In the end though, New Boy isn't so much a novel about being gay, more about being who you want to be. --Jonathan Weir [via]