Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick
Most teen coming-of-age novels are centred around kids of 15 or 16, just occasionally 18. But this now kids are living at home much longer and that first lash out for independence can often come sometime after their 21st. And that makes a difference.
James is on the road, heading up country for his first student teaching round. Not that he is sure he wants to be a teacher. Life just seemed to push him in that direction and he went along. He is driving with strict instructions to ring his mother hourly or she will worry, and everything he will need for the first week has been organised and listed. Then Sophie asks him for a lift and his whole organised and pre-planned life seems a whole lot less important. Before he knows it he is attending her father’s funeral and meeting the rest of the family.
This is a new age group for Herrick to explore. Most of the rest of his protagonists are sensitive young men about 15 years old. So how does he handle this older character? I’m not so sure. James is a lot less sensitive than Herrick’s norm and much more selfish and self-centred. Sophie is extreme, and she has had a tough life. Somehow I feel that a wimp like James would be more likely to dump her as quickly as possible rather than totally upend his life for her.
Like most road novels, somehow I can’t help wondering what will happen around the corner. Sophie and James are just too different to make a go of their relationship for long.