Sara's Reviews > Spud

Spud by John van de Ruit
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's review
Nov 03, 09

bookshelves: humor, real-thinking, ya-guy-or-girl
Read in October, 2009

If you like Georgia Nicholson but you're ready for something deeper, more 'guy,' and better-fleshed, read Spud. Though it's set in the 1990's, the references to historical events are few and far between and vague enough that the story will feel fresh for a long time.
The main character, Spud (nicknamed this because he has yet to go through puberty), has won a scholarship to an exclusive private school in the boonies. Upon arrival, he discovers that not only are the people around him brilliant, but they are also confirmed eccentrics. His English teacher swears with both enthusiasm and creativity, there's an upperclassman who keeps puff adders living under the stairs, and the boys in Spud's dorm lead night-time expeditions to the local reservoir for the thrill of being chased by the guard dogs. At one point in the story, Spud starts checking himself in mirrors to see if he's started "looking insane."
Spud sounds like what he's supposed to be: a highly intelligent, developing personality with excellent manners, a resilient nature who is struggling to grasp the often inexplicable behavior of the people around him. The writing allows his first-person narration to both reveal and conceal Spud's thoughts, so the audience goes along with him as he discovers how he really feels and thinks.
My only dislike about Spud is that there are several cricket scenes, and though I've watched my fair share of cricket matches, I understand nothing about it, so I skimmed those passages and moved on. It was enough to know whether Spud's team won or lost.
If you'd like a good laugh and an honest appraisal of human nature, read Spud. Don't be put off by the comparison to Catcher in the Rye. Spud is less whiny, more engaging, and far more realistic.
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