There is a lot to like about this story for young adults. Written in the first person, from the standpoint of a boy from a disadvantaged family, it shows great compassion in opening readers’ eyes to the problems he faces.
A few deft strokes in the opening pages vividly recreate the often grim world of school. The author, a deputy head teacher, understands this setting well. She even presents the shortcomings of teachers and portrays one of the main villains as a deputy head teacher!
The story introduces the gospel when the main character is befriended by a Christian in his class. Minimum prior knowledge of Christianity is assumed on the part of readers. The gospel is explained through the lips of the Christian character in a natural and helpful way. Importantly, the story is not just a vehicle for the gospel or a gospel illustration, but a good story in its own right.
It’s a short book, but no shorter than many similar books which fill school library shelves and aim to attract less confident or less enthusiastic readers. The boy characters’ ages are wisely unspecified (otherwise those older than them would be put off reading it), but they come across as 12-14. I would put the target readership in the 10-15 age range.
There is, it must be said, a fair amount of eavesdropping included in the plot. It’s all entirely believable and necessary for the story, but I would have felt more comfortable if some moral comment on it had been included somewhere