Thursday 25 January 2018

Book Review: The Boy in the Hoodie by Catriona McKeown (and Giveaway)

Review by Iola Goulton

The Boy in the Hoodie is the debut from Australian author Catriona McKeown, and winner of the 2016 Omega Writers CALEB Prize for an unpublished manuscript. It was a well-deserved win, because it's a great coming of age novel about making mistakes, paying the price, and becoming a better person through the experience.

Here's the description from the back cover:

One girl. One boy. And a friendship that could save them both.

Good-girl Kat knew drinking alcohol at school would have serious consequences. But to protect her friend from being expelled, Kat lands herself a terms worth of detentions.

Inside the detention room, she meets a strange boy who obsessively draws dark pictures and covers his head with a grey hoodie. Little does she know, the hoodie hides a dark past ...

An unlikely friendship forms between Kat and the boy in the hoodie. When she discovers a sinister truth hes been hiding, she somehow feels compelled to help him but at what cost? And how much is she willing to risk in order to keep him safe?

The Boy in the Hoodie is a real, unforgettable story about past scars and how the ones we love can sometimes heal them.

My Review

I enjoyed everything about The Boy in the Hoodie. Aussie setting, strong characters, solid plot, and excellent writing with enough humour to offset the often-serious nature of the story. Like this line, where Kat is wishing she could leave her current high school and go to a private school:

Well, I thought it was funny.

The set-up could have come across as contrived, but it didn't. I think this was because the story was told in first person from Kat's point of view, so we could see both why she lied for her friends, and what she thought about it. It was also interesting watching her get to know the boy in the hoodie and find out more about what the adults thought about her misdemeanor.

The boy was also an interesting character, and first person worked well in that I (as the reader) didn't know any more about him than Kat did, and got to know him as she did—for better and for worse.

I almost read The Boy in the Hoodie in one sitting—yes, it was that good. The 'almost' is because the tension got too much towards the end, so I had to take a break. I definitely recommend The Boy in the Hoodie for young adult and not-so-young adult readers.

Any chance of a sequel? I see Paige had issues and I want to know more ...


Cate has offered to give away two copies of The Boy in the Hoodie - one paperback copy to an Australian postal address, and one Kindle copy to an international reader.

If you'd like a chance to win, leave a comment and your email address, and tell us whether you ever got a detention in high school. If so, what was it for? 

We'll announce the winner next Friday, 2 February.

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat.


  1. Sounds like a great read, Iola. Thank you.

  2. I've had this book on my radar for some time and would very much like to read it, so please put me in the draw 😀 Your review makes me even more curious. My email address is PaulaVince(at)internode(dot)on(dot)net.

    And yes, I did get detention at school once, for daydreaming in class, of all things 😂 I blame the teacher for not making the lesson more interesting. The more hardcore students out there thought it was pretty hilarious.

  3. An intriguing sounding book. And yes, I thought that line was funny too! As for a detention in high school ... sorry, not one. Although I probably should've for daydreaming, like Paula did. (Seriously???) My email address: andreagrigg(at)live(dot)com

  4. It sounds like a super interesting read. But, no, no detention for me in high school (I was too much a Goody Two-Shoes), though I did get in trouble in elementary school a LOT for talking (and once for turning cartwheels in the classroom when the teacher stepped out of the room).

  5. no likelihood of detention for me. You know my email.

  6. Like a few said here I did get it in primary school for talking. I didn't actually get detention but I did have to write lines at one stage. Also the whole class got detention for playing up but I had had an accident, I came of my bike and was in sick bay and when it came time for them to stay in I said do I have to stay in too and got let out because I hadn't been there when it happened. It also happened in year eleven, I was in another area I most of the class was barred from one area for a period of time but because I wasn't there it didn't affect me.

  7. Iola, great review! My teenage daughter enjoyed reading ‘The Boy in the Hoodie’ and I have her print copy patiently waiting it’s turn to be read on my bedside table. My daughter is looking forward to reading Cate’s next book (as long as it’s a print book - she won’t read ebooks) :)

  8. Haha yup I got a detention in primary school. We were playing "Around the world" in French class and I whispered the translation of the word "jaune" to whoever's turn it was. I was just so excited I knew the answer ��
    Email is

  9. My single detention I got in school was for hitting my teacher in the face with a paper wasp (where you fold up a small piece of paper and shoot it with a rubber band). While it was an accident, it was quite a good shot. He had me picking bubble gum off of the bottom of the tables in times! Looking forward to reading the book! Email -

  10. Thanks for entering Iola’s competition everyone!
    My youngest daughter is home sick today, so she draw the winner’s name out of the proverbial hat for me.
    Paula Vince - congratulations! Happy to send you a paper copy of the novel if you’d rather - just let me know your address. You can email me at

    Do we have any international readers who have commented?
    Thanks again to everyone for entering.

    1. Wow, I'm so pleased :) My details have been sent. I will eagerly await it's arrival. Thanks so much.


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