[dropcap]Ah[/dropcap], the high-school years. Especially the Junior grades when you are still finding your way around a new academic setting, while at the same time discovering your own way in life. When the opposite sex gets thrown into the mix, and it can be a very confusing time for a young thirteen-year-old lad like Derek Cowell. Valerie Sherrard’s latest Young Adult (YA) title takes a humorous look at an otherwise average self-described “see-through” teen as he becomes quite popular after unintentionally photo-bombing a group selfie of his sister and her friends. Here’s a sample of the humour you can expect in Derek Cowell:
For the most part I didn’t mind being overlooked. Now and then, usually when I did something moronic, it could even be a plus. Either way, I was used to it. After all, it’s been this way for as long as I can remember. (Or I should I say, it was that way until a freak occurrence changed everything. I’ll get to that in a minute.) At home, a big factor was the amount of attention that’s left to dribble down when a guy lives in a house full of girls.
I have three sisters. If that doesn’t horrify you then you don’t have three sisters.
How will Derek keep the interest of his female classmates piqued once fame at the high school level is achieved? His good friend Steve has an idea. That’s where the trouble really begins.
Derek Cowell is written in the light-hearted style of Ms. Sherrard’s well-received 2015 novel, Random Acts. I liked Random Acts as it had more going on in the story than Derek Cowell does. It’s difficult to rate a humorous teen read, especially since my teen years were 40-some years ago. I prefer Ms. Sherrard’s more serious YA reads, like Driftwood or Rain Shadow. However, DK does get serious near the end, which was most welcome. Themes of friendship, loyalty and understanding are all explored in DK, but in subtle ways, as befits a read that is primarily humorous. Written in the voice of a young teen boy, there are plenty of bracketed ‘asides’ which get tiresome after a while, but overall, a fun read with some good clean fun and lessons learned along the way.
The Rise and Fall of Derek Cowell by Valerie Sherrard
DCB, an imprint of Cormorant Books.
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James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.