Saturday, 27 November 2010

Review: The Heroic Life of Al Capsella - Judith Clarke

Published: November 1997, Henry Holt and Co.

Pages: 144 pages, paperback

Acquired: Sent for review by Henry Holt and Co.

Summary (from Goodreads): Having parents at all is embarrassing enough, but what if your parents are the weirdest people on the planet? Poor Al Capsella! His efforts to appear "normal" to the outside world are thwarted at every turn by his eccentric parents. Why can't they trim the lawn like all of the other families in the neighborhood? Why must his mother always wear that biker outfit? Why does his bookish father harass Al's teachers for their teaching plans?

If you liked The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, Al Capsella's razor-sharp wit is sure to tickle your funny bone. Author J. Clarke takes a common teenage angst ("oh my god, my parents are so strange!") and exaggerates it ever so slightly to create a delightful romp inside the mind of a stressed-out 14-year-old.


My review: While the summary of Al Capsella may liken it to the Adrian Mole books I think this is a bit of a bolt statement. I loved the Adrian Mole books in my younger years and, while I wouldn’t quite say that Al Capsella lives up to Mr. Mole, this is a funny book that I enjoyed reading.

At a weeny 144 pages, Al Capsella is a quick read that will leave you smiling and feeling happy with the world around you. Al is a loveable protagonist who will have you laughing out loud as he attempts to appear ‘normal’ in front of his peers and tame his haphazard parents to stop them embarrassing him at every available opportunity.

However, when Al and his family go on a trip to visit his grandparents, he begins to realise that maybe being ‘normal’ is not quite all it’s cracked up to be. As a Brit through and through I embrace eccentricity with open arms so this was a great book for me. Al’s parents are both brilliant characters and I only wish I’d read this book when I was younger and I know it would have become one of my firm favourites.

First line: ‘Last night at 2:00am the phone rang.’

Read if you liked...: The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom – Stephen Giles

Rating:
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 14/20 (C)

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