Jo's Reviews > Losing it

Losing it by Keith Gray
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Dec 08, 11

bookshelves: good-grief, heart-skipped-a-beat, hometown-glories-uk, oh-how-we-laugh, ya, you-got-a-friend-in-me, hometown-ya
Read from December 01 to 02, 2011

“It’s that kind of story. Certain words are necessary because this is real life, but you can’t actually show ‘em because we’re too young to read about the stuff we actually do, yeah?”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Has anyone seen Cinema Paradiso?
If yes: Stick with me for this bit and read my highly convoluted intelligent analogy.
If no but you don’t mind it being spoilt: Stick with me for this bit and read my highly convoluted intelligent analogy.
If no but you would rather it not be spoilt: I loved this book and you can skip ahead to the high points.

You know the part where the priest tells Alfredo that he has to censor the films he shows in his cinema? And Alfredo explains this to Toto, his young apprentice, that he has to cut all the rude scenes out and all these clippings are in the big box? And then when the cut film is playing the audience boo because the scene cuts just when the couples are about to kiss?
That’s usually me when I’m reading a YA book.
I can probably count on both hands the books I’ve read recently where teenagers have sex.
Maybe I’m just reading the wrong books or maybe it’s because it doesn’t have any relevance to the story and the characters or maybe it’s because if a teenager reads a book where characters have sex, or even discuss sex, they will obviously run out and have immoral sex in an alley behind the nearest paper shop.

So at the end of Cinema Paradiso, Alfredo sends the now grown up Toto a film of all the rude scenes spliced together and it’s all emotional and lovely and brilliant.
This book was the literary equivalent of that end scene.
It was like Mr Gray had gone through all the snippets and cut scenes of books from YA writers all across the world and put them together into one fantastic collection.


High Points.
SEX! Home-grown writers. Realistic portrayal of emotions. Awkward parent chats. Awkward teacher chats. Great dialogue. Condoms on cucumbers. Vocal grannies. Footie shirts. Cock-cagoules. Hand-shandies. History. Diversity. The importance of being honest about sex. Truth. The censorship discussion.
If I could get away with giving this book five stars, full marks, performing a solo Mexican Wave in its honour based solely on Mr Ness’ “It’s Different For Boys”....I would.
But unfortunately I can’t.
So anyone who has ever seen me wear my “I LOVE NESS” t-shirt heard me talking about Ness and his writing will know that it makes me lose my [blank] mind.
And these 50 pages or so were no exception.
My other favourites were Scoring by Keith Gray, The White Towel by Bali Rai and The Way It Is by Sophie McKenzie.


Low Points.
I wish there had been more stories told from the perspective of the girls. Out of the eight stories, only two were told from the perspective of the ladies. (I’m not counting Anne Fine’s because it’s told from a teacher’s viewpoint and Ms McKenzie’s was told from alternating perspective ) . Maybe it was just because the first four stories were about the boys but, to me anyway, it seemed to be an extremely male-centric book.
I actually enjoyed all of the stories but I couldn’t help but think that both Melvin Burgess and Mary Hooper’s stories would have been so much better if they were part of a longer book.
But the more I think about it, the more that is actually a high point because I wanted to know more about their brilliant characters… but, whatever… I had to find something, didn’t I?


Theme Tune.
I struggled to narrow my collection down to one.... so I didn't.
Here are a few because
There | were | about | a | million | that | I | could | have | chosen.

But I’ll leave the decision with you.

Sadness Scale.
It’s difficult to give a number because most of these stories are absolutely hilarious so they kind of toned the sadness down.
But I will say that Bali Rai and Mary Hooper’s story practically gutted me. I’ve never read anything by either of those two authors but based on those stories I definitely will be doing so in the future.

Recommended For.
People who boo when YA books fade to black or get all tongue-tied when *whispers* sex is brought up. People who are looking for a collection of hilarious, heart breaking and realistic contemporary stories. People who have ever had an awkward conversation with their parents and teachers about sex.


You can read this review and other exciting things on my blog here.
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Reading Progress

12/01/2011 page 12
5.0% "It will be a sad, sad day when the phrase "hand-shandies" doesn't make me giggle smuttily. :D" 16 comments
12/01/2011 page 80
31.0% ""Nah," Jack says. "He just looks like if Gethin Jones was a mental patient." LOL... I need to put this book down. Mr Ness, I adore you."
12/01/2011 page 92
36.0% ""And by the way, is it poofs like roofs? Or pooves like hooves? Who would know?""
12/01/2011 page 117
46.0% "Mr Ness is the boss of YA fiction. Seriously, he made me spit my drink out with laughter, made my heart race a hundred miles per hour and then he took that heart and dashed it into a million pieces. Oh and yeah, all of that? In less than 50 pages."

Comments (showing 1-10)




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Skittles (Skyla) This was a lovely review that made me actually consider reading this book.


message 9: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo Thanks Skyla!
I hope you get to read it soon :)


Laura I love this review Jo! I really can't wait to read this one! Brilliant analogy! :) I love that film. Ya know--I believe that was the first time I have seen the phrase "Condoms on cucumbers" in a review! :D hehe...maybe I am the one reading the wrong books! ;)


Laura We do need I LOVE Ness t-shirts! I love this review—just wanted to drop by to check it again. My review is kicking my butt. I so want to touch on all the stories, but…yeah—I don’t want to write a book. ;) hehe…


message 5: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo Hahaha, I bet we'd make a killing if we started to sell them.
Nessochist written on the front. ;-)

When are you going to read Chaos Walking, Laura? WHEN WHEN WHEN?! :-P


Laura LOL! I know right! It was at the top of the pile and then—I don’t know. The pile toppled! Hehe…BUT…after this…really the man blew me away.
LOVE the t-shirt! Hehe…a package I have been waiting for forever finally came yesterday—so…after those 2…I swear!
Have you read anything by Jenny Valentine? She did the sex at the table story—Dora! Loved that lady! I really liked her style too.


message 3: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo Haha yeah that story was great. I've read Me, the Missing, and the Dead (but my copy is called Finding Violet) and it was OK. It didn't blow me away or anything, though.

I really loved Keith Gray's story and Anne Fine's too.

You need to mentally prepare for CW, seriously. Those books should come with a warning.


Laura Oh, no! Just 2 stars though? Hmm…
I loved the Gray story and the Melvin Burgess one too—damn kid! I can’t believe I walked away from that one liking him. (view spoiler) Boys! Haha….
Mentally prepare? Sad? Mindblowing? Jeez! Do I have to start this tonight!!! :D


message 1: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo Sad. Mindblowing. All of the above, Laura. ALL OF THE ABOVE.


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