This book is from the already critically acclaimed stable of Barrington Stoke, a publisher dedicated to the production of fiction for ‘reluctant, dyslexic, disenchanted and under-confident readers’. This quote is of course from the website and not the blurb, as this book looks and feels every bit as cool as regular teen reads. The only difference is that it can be accessed by a reader with a reading age of 8. The book however is very definitely not for 8-year-olds with some mild language and subjects such as alcoholism, physical abuse and self mutilation. While this novel may have a large, easy-to-read font on cream pages, simple language and short chapters, the reader will not feel that they are reading below their reading age because the content is so engaging.
Them tells the story of Kylie who has moved into a new neighbourhood with her mother and stepsister to escape her abusive and alcoholic stepfather. In her efforts to be accepted by ‘them’ (the ‘cool’ people) in school, she gets caught up in a plot to victimise the school ‘nerd’, Adam. The scheme gets out of hand and Adam suffers a humiliation in front of the whole school, filling Kylie with shame and regret.
Apart from the slightly saccharine ending, the story is realistic and appealing. The language is simple but never condescendingly so and the dialogue is sharp and edgy with plenty of street lingo. I gave this book to Shanelle, a 5th class ‘reluctant reader’ and this is what she wrote: ‘I do not personally enjoy reading but I couldn’t put this book down, it’s really good. 10/10’.