Charlie Han’s troubles are way bigger than he is. At school, he’s branded an outsider, a loser – the tiny kid from the Chinese Chippy. His only ally is Sinus Sedgely, the only lad in school with a worse reputation than Charlie himself. Life at home isn’t much better. His dad is better with a wok than he is with words, and his mum is suffocating the life out of Charlie, wrapping him in enough cotton wool to fill a pharmacy. But when a new passion leads Charlie to the mother of all confrontations, he finds his mum’s been hiding a massive secret. A secret that whilst shocking, might actually lead Charlie to feeling ten feet tall.
The Bubble Wrap Boy is about the terrors of friendship, family and one undersized boy’s ability to think BIG…
I received this book through NetGalley from the gorgeous people of Puffin in exchange for a review.
The main thing I loved about this book was actually Charlie. Everything about him screamed realness and I loved his interactions with his family and his friend Sinus. Earle has an absolute gift when it comes to creating compelling and believable characters, something that is clear from the very start of his debut Being Billy and this new offering. The tone is set right from the first page as we have Charlie speaking directly to the reader and introducing himself as the clumsy, good-things-come-in-small-packages character that he is. It’s a brilliant device used to great effect as we are drawn straight into Charlie.
The portrayal of his family life is also incredibly realistic (at least to me) in that he has an overbearing/overprotective mother and silent father. While my mother isn’t as terrible as Charlie’s, she certainly has had her moments of overprotective, wrapping the children up in cotton wool/bubble wrap. I could relate to Charlie and his home life and feel like many teenagers and young children in this day and age could. The overprotectiveness is something that is so culturally relevant and I feel Earle has hit the nail on the head.
Later on in the story you find that Charlie’s mother has her reasons for being the way she is, but, even without that, we live in a society where the younger generations are being mollycoddled and treated like they should be wrapped up in cotton wool and shielded from the outside world. I imagine a lot of them feel like Charlie does, that they just want to go outside and make their own mistakes.
The short version of this review will tell you that I adored it from start to finish and read it practically in one sitting. It is quite a short book but it is immensely powerful and an emotional roller coaster. I found myself laughing on one page and sobbing on the next.
The Bubble Wrap Boy is Earle’s fourth book published by Puffin and is released May 2014.