Book review: Pops & The Nearly Dead

2010-04-14 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Pops & The Nearly Dead

Edyth Bulbring

Penguin

A NEWCOMER to Edyth Bulbring, I had no idea what to expect when I began this book, but Pops & The Nearly Dead has pretty much assured itself a place among my three best reads of the year.

Uproariously funny, but poignant enough at times to almost but not quite waste a tissue, the book tells the story of the ­pubescent Randolph St John Goodenough who has been shipped off to spend a couple of months with his adored grand­father in the Nelson Mandela Gardens ­retirement village in the Windy City, Port Elizabeth, while his parents move to Bangkok for his father to take up a contract there.

The good natured Randy — yes, he hates the name too — adores his Pops and is distressed when he starts behaving oddly out of character.

Pops begins by mooning a group of old-timers at the retirement village and things soon go from bad to worse. As Randy, who has befriended many of the old-timers, tries to cover up Pops’s startling behaviour, to his astonishment he starts being blamed for the mayhem Pops’s behaviour has caused at the ­retirement village.

To complicate matters, Randy’s absent parents are little help and the girl he has a massive crush on, Regina Versagel, seems to thinks he’s a total jerk.

Bulbring crosses the generations and gets the elderly in a way few others do, but similarly seems to understand the arcane minds of teenage boys. She knows what’s important to them and why they behave the way they do.

The book is a breath of fresh air and the South African flavour is just delicious. Should be a hit with teen readers but great for anyone needing a mood elevation. Bring on Bulbring!

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