Josh Walker needs to study for his A Levels – but who can focus on biology when your kind of girlfriend is seemingly ignoring you, you’re trying to get a metal band together and your mother is being generally weird?
Every novel that comes in the form of the diary of a teenage boy is inevitably compared to a certain Mole shaped mountain, and certainly J.A. Buckle’s My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession has similarities to Sue Townsend’s famous series. However, it sets itself apart with a sweet lead character and an unsentimental focus on mental health problems facing teenagers today.
Josh is a funny, pretension free protagonist whose love of metal will be relatable to anyone who has jumped the wrong way in a moshpit. Following from the first in the series Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets, the author is clearly comfortable with her characters, and there is a natural back and forth between Josh and the people who populate his world. His circle of friends is especially an amusing lot.
Noteworthy is the use of Croydon, South London which adds a verisimilitude that grounds the story somewhere real and helps ensure that the mid narrative shift to more serious material is seamless.
There are some wrong notes. Occasionally, the humour leans too heavily on stereotypes and also some of the plot treads get lost along the way. That said, My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession is a tasty, often touching, treat and one hopes Josh rocks on for another sequel.