Dis­as­ter in the life of a teen

The Witness - - BOOKS & ENTERTAINMENT - BOOK RE­VIEWER: STEPHANIE SAV­ILLE

BEN Smith is a reg­u­lar ado­les­cent boy in Grade 8. He is typ­i­cally self­con­scious and wants noth­ing more than to blend in with his sur­round­ings and sur­vive the emo­tional roller­coaster that is teenage­hood. He lives with his mom, sis­ter and a bad­tem­pered pooch, which seems to hate him and every­thing he does.

Ben’s dad died when he was a small child and so he en­joys a par­tic­u­larly close re­la­tion­ship with his mom. They get on. He trusts her and tells her things. But, Ben is about to learn the big­gest les­son of his life. Don’t snitch.

Ben’s school, St Davids, is fiercely com­pet­i­tive on the rugby field. The first team are the stuff of leg­ends, the big boys ev­ery­one looks up to and are afraid of. They take their rugby very seriously. When Ben re­alises one day that the “vi­ta­mins” they are tak­ing are ac­tu­ally steroids, he men­tions it to his mom over break­fast one morn­ing.

The re­sults are dis­as­trous. Ben’s world comes tum­bling down, as his teach­ers, friends and worst of all the sixth form, take against him in epic ways as their per­for­mance en­hancers are ex­posed. He is alien­ated from his best pals and even the girl whom he has a mon­ster crush on, seems to turn her pretty nose up at him. As Ben, aka Snitch since his mother spilled the beans, comes to terms with the fact that his life as he knew it is over, he comes to the re­al­i­sa­tion that he can carve out a new des­tiny for him­self, one in which he does not al­low the bul­lies to have power over him. If he is told to scrub the toi­let by a se­nior, he of­fers to scrub the basins too. If he is told to do 100 push ups, he throws in an ex­tra 100 for good mea­sure.

Slowly but surely, Snitch re­gains his self­re­spect and that of his peers. It’s a lovely story with many facets and if you’re a fan of the Spud se­ries, you will en­joy Snitch by the won­der­fully tal­ented and hu­mor­ous Edyth Bulbring.

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