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Hoodie is the debut from Australian author Catriona McKeown, and winner of the 2016 Omega Writers CALEB Prize for an unpublished manuscript.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.
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 GoultonIola 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.