Growing up is tricky for many. Hormones, so many hormones. Quite often, it seems that your parents do not remember what a hard, traumatic and, apparently for Oliver Tate (aged fifteen and a virgin), sexually-charged time teen-hood is.
Joe Dunthorne presents this, his first novel, as a funny story about growing up as Oliver Tate: His parents are having a tough time; his dad is depressed, his mother is far too friendly with her hippy, surfing, (and unfortunately very nice) ex-boyfriend. As an important member of the family, Oliver Tate sees it in his best interests to get them back on track. No, more than that… it is his right, his business, he is their precious child after all… basically their only trophy of success.
Oliver is not dazzlingly attractive, but his intelligence does get him into trouble. His constant curiosity in words is entertaining and enlightening. His personal life and attraction to school girlfriend, and pyromaniac, Jordana, is a wonderfully honest and often surprisingly heartbreaking yet oddly laughable feature of the novel. He must loose his virginity before he is sixteen. He must do it well. He must last ten minutes, which he believes to be his father’s perfectly acceptable standard.
Joe Dunthorne allows us to explore this excessively personal and challenging period in Oliver Tate’s life. The dry humour and brutal honestly is wonderfully fresh (though it may be too graphic for some readers). Men will connect with it. Women will be endlessly curious with it. It is currently making the rounds with all of my friends. Find. Enjoy.