On A Level results day the doorbell rings, it’s not the postman with your results but your ex-girlfriend with a baby. She pops out to get supplies and calls to say the child’s yours, and she’s not coming back.
Dante is thrown into a life he didn’t chose (ok I know some of you will say he had sex he did chose it but by not knowing that Emma even existed means he didn’t), as struggles to work out what to do and how he can be a father he’s faced with more than just the sleepless nights and trying to work out why his daughter is crying instead of the Freshers nights at uni he planned. One of the many things that stand out about this novel is that it is entirely believable. This could happen in real life and I feel really sorry for the guys who aren’t told until the child is born (unless of course there is an abusive nature to the relationship). Dante handles the sudden shock as many young men would do I think, disbelief, a little bit of denial, struggling and then trying to make a tough decision.
“How could ten forgettable minutes of not much turn both our lives inside out and upside down like this?”
There are a lot of novels out there that portray the struggles that young mothers face after the birth of a baby, although Blackman highlights this when Melanie says she can’t cope, she has done a fantastic job in showing the struggles of a young father – something society seems to forget. From sexist remarks when he doesn’t know the answer to something ‘Maybe her Mum could come in and register her’, to the social worker who has concerns about the father raising a child alone and generally not knowing what to do on a natural level that women have from carrying a child for nine months. With help from his own Dad and brother (after his Mum had passed away when he was younger) he slowly begins to work out what’s best for him and Emma.
The use of subplot was used spectacularly as well, never one to hide from tough things to deal with Dante’s younger brother Adam has his own worries. Although Adam is comfortable with his sexuality, other around him (including his father and older brother) aren’t as comfortable. One night things change dramatically leaving everyone on edge and Adam’s future hanging in the balance.
I’m giving Boys Don’t Cry five stars *****. I loved this novel, it had a really unique perspective and challenged a lot of perceptions of young Dads. Once again Blackman has shown us the world through a view we might not necessarily consider, if I had my way schools would have to teach this in a combined English/Health class and hopefully we would also have a less judgemental society because of it. I’d love to read a sequel to this and I’m full to the brim with questions…so you can tell it’s a great novel!