Thoughts: Orangeboy, by Patrice Lawrence

I can’t say too much about this one, because the unfolding sense of mystery was one of the best parts. It’s a little younger than my usual reading material, actual YA, not YA aimed at 20somethings, if you catch my drift, but I was so into it that I honest to god snapped at Spuggy for interrupting me during a particularly tense part.

It’s about Marlon, a 16 year old London kid, and the way gang culture overshadows families and areas outside its immediate grasp, reaching through space and time. I loved the characters, how complex they were, the history they had and the compromises they made to live and do what they wanted or needed to do. Lawrence also does that thing that British storytelling does really well, of portraying something of the naffness of reality, if you get what I mean? Marlon is a smart little nerd kid on the fringes of danger that is far out of his experience and depth, and everyone around him knows it.

I really enjoyed this, and it was a chunkier read than I was expecting, full of warmth, teenage banter and silliness, and a backdrop of black London life and culture as well as the darker issues it sets out to explore. Marlon does some stupid things, but I was never frustrated with him. He’s doing his best, and that’s all you can ask of him.

Yep, recommend.

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