Sprout by Dale Peck

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Sprout by Dale Peck

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Profoundly moving coming-of-age story about a gay teen in a small Kansas town. Intelligent, witty, polysyllabic and generally just the kind of thing Bookbag loves best.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 0747577625

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After his mother dies of cancer, Sprout's father packs up their lives in Long Island and moves himself and his twelve-year-old son to rural Kansas. Once there, he moves them into a trailer, plants ivy all over it, and promptly buries himself in a bottle. Sprout is pretty much left to his own devices. School doesn't go too well. Picked on by the jocks and ignored by pretty much everyone else except Ruthie, life seems pretty bleak. Four years on, and he's chosen by Mrs Miller as her candidate for this year's state essay contest and she's poking about in his personal experiences for some decent material. And Sprout has plenty. He's gay, for starters. And he's also found love in the most unexpected of places...

Ok. What to say? Dog-ear count: 11. My dog-ear count is probably more accurate than the Bookbag star count. Each dog-ear is something I feel I need to mention or quote. It's an excellent gauge of how much I liked the book because more than ten dog-ears probably means I'll end up with a precis and not a review, and I know you hate it if I go on and on and Ariston. 11 means that I liked Sprout too much to review it! There. What more do you need to know?

Well, ok. More. It's wordy. It loves words and puns and language used, mis-used, and coming from left field as often as possible. It has lots of humour - verbal, situational, and sometimes painfully corrosive. It has pathos, kitchen sink drama, and a very clever structure. There's a mix of unreliable narration and fourth wall-breaking going on which are tied both into the plot and the written words themselves. Sprout is a first-person narrator and he's also getting ready for the state essay-writing contest, so sometimes his you is the examiner, sometimes it's Mrs Miller and sometimes it's the reader. Sometimes, perhaps, it's just the whole darn universe.

Mostly, though, Sprout is profoundly moving. It's about growing up gay in a small parochial town when your mother's dead and your father's turned to drink. It's about finding a balance between individuality and fitting in. It's about learning that giving love is much more important to the soul than receiving it could ever be. It's about trusting yourself to really live, because after all, you only live once.

And I loved it.

My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

My Side Of The Story by Will Davis is an extremely funny coming-of-age story about a gay adolescent. Are We There Yet? by David Levithan has a similar feel and also a similar theme of learning to give and receive love without reservation.

Buy Sprout by Dale Peck at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sprout by Dale Peck at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Sprout by Dale Peck at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sprout by Dale Peck at Amazon.com.


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