Cuckoo by Keren David

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Cuckoo by Keren David

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
Reviewed by Alex Mitchell
Summary: A well-written and gripping story about how fame doesn't always equal happiness.
Buy? Yes Borrow? No
Pages: 272 Date: August 2016
Publisher: Atom
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780349002354

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Jake Benn is a rising star thanks to his role on Market Square, an EastEnders-style soap opera. However, after his character is seemingly written out of the show, Jake is now facing an uncertain future. In addition to his father's anger issues, the family's financial troubles and the demands of his mentally handicapped brother, Jake's home life feels like it's about to implode.

It may be easier to spend his nights on friends' sofas, but when you feel like a cuckoo in every nest, how can you retain a sense of belonging?

The structure of the story is quite unique. It is set out as what seems to be a transcript of a web series, created by Jake. The dialogue is not laid out in prose form, as such, but instead is more like a transcript. Each chapter is called an 'episode' instead, and has the cast of Market Square portraying either people Jake interacts with or themselves. At the end of most of the chapters is the comments section, in which fans of the series or characters in the books comment on the videos, and occasionally hurl abuse at each other (as is the way with the internet).

Our protagonist is Jake Benn, a former star of Market Square (an Eastenders-style soap opera), who is going through massive challenges in his personal life, struggling to balance work and school, and living in a financially precarious family. His father Neil, who has been out of a job for three months, has terrible anger and stress problems, which are exacerbated by his son's floundering career. His brother Adam, who has severe autism and requires near constant looking after, certainly doesn't help. So James ends up relying on friends and fellow cast members in order to shelter him until everything blows over at home.

Overall, this is a well-written and gripping tale of teen fame, teen homelessness and isolation.

Further reading:

Being Billy by Phil Earle – a slightly darker story of the challenges of being a teenager
Unbecoming by Jenny Downham – a similar tale of struggling to balance school with personal problems.

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Buy Cuckoo by Keren David at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cuckoo by Keren David at


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