The Summer of Kicks by Dave Hackett
Published by University of Queensland Press
The Summer of Kicks is a humorous young adult boy -chases- girl coming of age story. It has a male protagonist and is set in Noosa, Queensland. What I love about reading Australian literature is the familiarity of the settings which engage you immediately - Noosa is one of my favourite holiday spots – and there’s a comfort in having a culturally relevant context.
Starrphyre Jones is a dorky kid with a dorkier name and a quirky but loving family, albeit his parents are separated, and he has to share his room temporarily with his sister’s bully boyfriend. Starrphyre’s had a crush on the ‘it’ girl since forever and this summer he plans to somehow propel himself into her orbit. He starts with buying a cool pair of shoes from the internet (which Hacket uses to great effect to set up the story and the main characters); he attempts to form a band with his unmusical mates; and he stars in the school mini-musical, winding up being humiliated in various social situations. He does land a job at the local music store (they only sell old vinyl records) where his expert knowledge of the music industry is valued and he meets a girl with whom he seems to ‘click’. The plot has unexpected twists and turns (some more plausible than others, some not completely resolved), which gains momentum as it races to the satisfying, if predictable, end of the story.
The book uses various analogies about life to good effect, like musical composition: “It’s funny to think how a few tiny decisions could have changed the entire flavour of the song... It just comes down to choices. Make the right choice and you can create magic. Make the wrong choice and the consequences can be disastrous.”
The Summer of Kicks is written in first person, casual style, and heavily references popular culture (I do wonder if this could make it feel dated before its time) and music. It’s easy to read with short chapters and intriguing chapter headings. With occasional course language and sexual references, this one is aimed squarely at the young adult market.
The Summer of Kicks is an enjoyable, entertaining YA read and will have special appeal to fans of music trivia.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Dave Hackett
Title: The Summer of Kicks
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Published: August 2014