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Will by Maria Boyd
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Will (2006)

by Maria Boyd

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Get to know Will, he's a good guy.

The premise for the book sounds like every other guy-coming-of-age book out there: Will is a high school jock and prankster who finds himself banished to the school's band as punishment for his recent string of hijinks. While with the band, Will learns his lesson and comes to accept himself and others for who they are. What makes this book different is the tone in which it is told - Will is a very subtle, light and fun read, but still manages to have a heart. At no point does the author hit you over the head with Will's struggles, instead, we see our character acting out, and then slowly the pieces come together and we learn the reason behind his acting out. The most challenging part of this book is that its set in Australia and filled with Aussie slang, but if you can work past that, then your in for a good read. ( )
  Rigfield | Oct 18, 2011 |
After Will gets in trouble at school too many times, his punishment is to join the school musical as a lead member of the band, condemning him to spend many hours and weekends with younger and much less cool students. His only consolation is that it gets him out of detention on Wednesdays and he thinks it might help him meet some hot girls. Predictably, being in the play teaches him several important lessons about stereotypes, the power of language, and how to be himself, and by the end, he even ends up with the girl.

I wasn't going to finish this book, put off by the use of bolded text instead of normal dialogue punctuation, but I stuck with it and didn't feel like it was a total waste of time. However, I felt that Will acted a lot younger than I would expect a 17- or 18-yr-old to act and it was rather annoying after a while. It also took some getting used to the Australian slang. Overall, the lack of depth and, to me, unrealistic depiction of an older teenager main character make the book lack distinction. I liked the supporting cast much more than the main character and would have preferred to read about their lives rather than his. ( )
1 vote elizardkwik | Mar 8, 2011 |
WILL by Maria Boyd, Knopf, July 2010, 320p., ISBN: 978-0-375-86209-0

"I see a bad moon arising,
I see trouble on the way."
-- John Fogerty

"Moon has been a common shape-metaphor for the buttocks in English since 1743, and the verb to moon has meant 'to expose to (moon)light' since 1601, long before they were combined in US student slang in the verb(al expression) mooning 'to flash the buttocks' in 1968."
-- from the Wikipedia article "Mooning"

"On cue I heard the familiar rumble of the Lakeside Girls school bus. It was sitting at the lights about to begin the daily ritual of passing our stop. Just like us, the girls had their own bus law and their own code of behavior. They stared from the buses giggling, giving the finger or rolling their eyes in bored condescension. All three reactions were dependent on status and age, and were as predictable as ours.

"and when that moon gets big and bright
it's supernatural delight"
-- Sherman Kelly, "Dancing in the Moonlight"

"Everyone was ready to take their part when the hugest, loudest blowout, like the farts of thirty giants, came from the back of the bus. The girls screamed and the boys pissed themselves laughing. This continued until it dawned on everyone that in fact the bus was stuck and, even worse, that they would all have to actually look at one another.
"This was a clear breach of bus law, and everyone was a little unsure of how to act. Never one to let the boys down, I felt it was my opportunity -- no, in fact my duty -- to step in and save the day. I went over to Jock and whispered to him.
"'No way, Willo!'
"I smiled, extending my hand. Wanna make a bet?'
"Casually I moved to the curb. I strategically placed myself so no other member of the public could see -- we did have the good name of the college to keep up. I faced the entrance gates, looking directly into the stony frown of the school's founder. The back half of my body was in full view of the stationary bus. Slowly, surreptitiously, I unbuckled my belt and grabbed the top of my school pants and boxers. I threw my head around ninety degrees on each side looking for the enemy, winked at the statue, and dropped my pants. The first moon in full public view and in front of girls in St. Andrew's history. Or so I was told afterward."

From the scene that soon thereafter follows -- in the office with the deputy principal and the Year 11 coordinator -- we learn that high school senior Will Armstrong has been involved in a string of behavior-related incidents over the past six months and that this latest performance could lead to his expulsion from the boys' school St. Andrews.

But there are also hints that Will has been having to deal with a significant problem in his life, and in the disciplinary meeting that follows a long weekend Will learns that his English teacher has proposed that Will -- a guitar player -- be saved from expulsion but be required to participate ("as a musician and general dogsbody") in the extracurricular musical ("The Boy Friend") that is about to be staged jointly between the girls' school (Lakeside) and the boys' school (St. Andrews).

And, of course, he is destined to fall for the feisty female lead (who has already seen a memorable side of this troubled young man).

"Now in the moonlight a man could sing it
In the moonlight"
-- Meredith Wilson, "Marian the Librarian" from my all-time favorite musical

Written by a teacher (meaning that the teachers come off looking pretty good and the administrator comes off looking not quite as good), and originally published in Australia (meaning that readers are exposed to those interesting differences in language, slang, and culture), WILL is a truly lovely story for middle schoolers about Will Armstrong's evolving relationships with his mother, his teachers, his friends, the new kid at school (with issues of his own), the younger boy in band who befriends him, and with the girl that Will fancies. It is also a tale of his coming to terms with the tragedy that has so radically altered his life.

I really appreciate how author Maria Boyd chooses not to neatly tie up all of the loose threads at the conclusion of this story. Readers are left to wonder and debate whether or how everything in Will's life might fall into place or into pieces. And we are also left to decide for ourselves how we might act were we to be in Will's position during the climactic scene when he (finally) wants to do the right thing for his new guy friend.

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
BudNotBuddy@aol.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/middle_school_lit/
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http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/partingtonr/partingtonr.php

FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books. You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received. Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries. ( )
  richiespicks | May 6, 2010 |
I very much liked this, although the ending wasn't to my satisfaction, because although the point of the novel was completed, there were other things I wanted to know about.
  alasen_reads | Jun 9, 2007 |
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Seventeen-year-old Will's behavior has been getting him in trouble at his all-boys school in Sydney, Australia, but his latest punishment, playing in the band for a musical production, gives him new insights into his fellow students and helps him cope with an incident he has tried to forget.… (more)

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