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Seriously Weird by Gene Kemp
Published by Faber and Faber, 2003

Reviewed by Newmarket-on-Fergus book club

This story is about a boy named Troy, who is very weird. He is obsessed with, though brilliant at numbers, is undisciplined, erratic and violent, though also lovable. The novel portrays the effect he has on his family, neighbours and school, and shows how other people respond to people who are different. His family thinks he is completely mad, all except for his Mom, who pretends there is nothing wrong with him. The family are both fascinated and frustrated with Troy’s weirdness as he proves a constant problem and embarrassment to them.

Claire is the narrator of the story and the middle child, with an older sister and her younger brother, Troy. Claire is helpful and considerate at home, especially where Troy is concerned. She is constantly challenged by her siblings, her mother who places a lot of responsibility on her, and her inner voice Clarry, who insists she looks out for number one. She resents the responsibility that is placed on her as she battles to keep the family normal in abnormal circumstances.

In fact, the whole family falls apart with Troy’s ever increasing strangeness. The teachers, neighbours and family members cannot cope with Troy and are frustrated with him. It is only when Troy’s Dad leaves home that his mother eventually admits that he is different and needs professional help. Troy thinks he is going to be locked up and so disappears. While everyone is searching for him a man in a gold and purple outfit turns up to say he has won first prize in a competition to guess the number of chocolate beans in a jar.

In the end, there is hope that Troy’s genius will be recognised. His weirdness turns out to be an integral part of his genius. This is a very funny and lively book, enjoyed by all the members in the bookclub.

Marks: 7 out of 10.