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The Last Days of Archie Maxwell by Annabel Pitcher - Review

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Where did I get it? I pre-ordered it, I've read a couple of other of Annabel's books and I tend to keep an eye on her new stuff, I've met her a couple of times and she's from where I'm from (broadly) and is only a couple of years older than I am. This arrived yesterday evening around 6pm, and I finished it this morning having read it in two bursts. It's one of those dyslexia friendly readable books, where it's printed on heavy paper in special colours. I'm not dyslexic but I do find these books easier to read! 

What's it about? It's a really short book, just 140 pages, so it doesn't encompass lots of happenings, but it's really good. Right at the beginning of the book we discover that Archie's mum and dad are splitting up, and then we find out that Dad is gay and has been hiding it for years. Mum and Archie's sisters Maisy and Amy are very accepting, but Archie is having trouble with it, especially because he fears what his so-called friends would say if they found out. He has been bullied in a previous school and sees bullying of a gay student at his new school. He really likes a girl called Tia, but she's caught up in grief. I don't want to say more or I'll give away the plot of the whole book! 

What age range is it for? Well, Archie is at least 13 (he talks about Dad taking him somewhere for his 13th birthday, although we don't know when that was) so while I would usually go for a couple of years younger than that for the ideal reader, I do think there is a lot here that may not be suitable for younger readers. So I'm going to say from 13 years old, since that's around how old Archie is. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, obviuously. There is some homophobic violence and a lot of homophobic language and imagery. If that is triggering, avoid the book. 

Are any main characters people of colour? If they are, it's not mentioned. It's something I would have liked to see, especially given that the book is set in Huddersfield which is very ethnically diverse. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, there is some mental illness in the book. 

Is there any sex stuff? There's the violent imagery mentioned above and there's some discussion of it, but nothing really shown on the page. What there is from Archie's point of view is very normal teenage behaviour!

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, there's lots of talk of suicide so again take care of yourself. 

Are there swear words? Yes, tons. While I think it's very, very true to life even I was surprised how many words hadn't been edited out. 

What criticisms do I have? Almost literally nothing - I really loved the book and think Annabel has done a fantastic job writing in a very real way about difficult circumstances in the life of a teenager. If anything, I would have liked the book to be longer just so that we could have got more background on Archie and a more in-depth look! 

Would I recommend the book? Yes one hundred percent, especially to a reluctant reader. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I just basically couldn't resist it when it turned up at the door! 

What other books is it like? It does remind me of Ketchup Clouds by Annabel which I absolutely loved, I read it before I started this blog though. Annabel is very good at showing teenagers do really, really stupid things but in a way that totally makes sense for their character. 

How many stars? Five, it's not perfect but it is lovely and it made me feel a lot of things in such a short number of words. 

Where is the book going now? I'll keep it on my LGBTQ shelf, obviously! Firstly though I might lend it to my friend Laura - she's also a fan of Annabel! 

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