Review: Mind the Gap – Phil Earle

Title: Mind the Gap
Author: Phil Earle
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Publication date: 5 January 2017
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 104

When his Dad dies suddenly at age forty, Mikey struggles to come to terms with his loss. He puts himself in dangerous situations without any concern for his own safety and provokes the scariest guy on the estate unnecessarily. Our unnamed narrator, Mikey’s best friend, realises he needs to do something to help Mikey remember his Dad – or risk losing Mikey too.

I was motivated to read Mind the Gap after hearing Phil Earle talk about the true story that inspired the book (Google ‘Mind the Gap Embankment’ if you are interested, but be aware of potential spoilers) at YALC 2017. Phil really seems to ‘get’ people and portrays the nuggets of conversation and small experiences that build our lives with real authenticity. An understanding of grief – and how it might affect a teenage boy with a complicated home life – is also apparent in the book.

At it’s heart, Mind the Gap is about friendship. The love and endurance the narrator shows in order to help his friend is remarkable, yet believable, and makes for a truly life-affirming story.

This fantastic novella is gripping from the very first line: “It’s hard to sound tough when someone’s hand is round your throat.” It is well-paced, with just the right amount of twists and turns, and can easily be read in one sitting.

Mind the Gap is part of Barrington Stoke’s range of “super-readable YA” stories for reluctant readers. They cover topics suitable for teens, but publish them in a dyslexia-friendly typeface and on pale yellow paper to reduce the contrast between text and paper and hide the ‘ghost’ of words printed on the other side of the page. Each book is around 100-pages long and they are perfect for inspiring a love of reading. I can also recommend Unboxed by Non Pratt.

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