Boy Meets Girl. A Shakespearean Tragicomedy. Charlie Lewis is the product of a broken family. His mother has gone to live with another man and taken his sister, leaving him to look after his depressed father. His part-time job at the petrol station is hanging on by a thread and he’s surely failed all his exams. But during the long summer of 1997 Charlie meets Fran. Fran is from the better end of town, well-educated and immersed in her role as Juliet in a summer drama camp, something she persuades Charlie to join, too.
It’s a familiar enough story, and in another author’s hands this novel might have failed spectacularly. But the quality of the writing and the sheer sense of character, place, and time, makes for compelling reading. Not once does this novel rely on a plot twist, a gratuitous scene of sex or violence, or any other kind of trickery to have the reader stay engaged and read on. We’ve all known people like these. It’s realistic, the narrative is witty, the tragedy and the comedy slot together beautifully. And although this is a-coming-of-age story with all the embarrassment that inevitably brings, Nicholls delivers it with great style and insight.