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Spud by John van de Ruit
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Spud (2005)

by John van de Ruit

Series: Spud (1)

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4412023,785 (3.86)26
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Spud! Oh boy do I love this book. Really, what's not to like? It's got a little bit of everything. There's a whole lot of humor accompanied by some life themes, classic literature, and some South African history. Almost anyone could find something they like in this book. At first I wasn't too sure how much I would like the diary-style entries, but I ended up loving them. John "Spud" Milton is a hilarious narrator and he handles the tough format well.
What really makes the book are the characters, namely "The Crazy Eight", which consists of Spud, Robert "Rambo" Black, Charlie "Mad Dog" Hooper, Henry "Gecko" Barker, Alan "Boggo" Greenstein, Vern "Rain Man" Blackadder, Simon Brown, and Sydney "Fatty" Smitherson-Scott. The group really lives up to its "crazy" name, what with Mad Dog cooking pigeons, Rambo and Boggo making racy comments left and right, Gecko either sick or injured 90% of the time, Fatty eating everything in sight, Simon and his inability to handle the crazy, Spud's humorous reaction to events, the whole group going on numerous illegal night swims, and last but certainly not last, Vern. Oh Vern! There is no end to the humor that Vern supplies. Spud's deranged cubical mate may just be the best part of the book. Hearing his conversations with Rodger and other various inanimate objects always made me laugh.
However, the Crazy Eight does not allow the other characters to slack off. Spud's father's fight with the neighbor's dogs is always good for a laugh. His mother's constant disappointment with the boys will always make you smile. His grandmother Wombat is nearly as hilarious as Vern. The headmaster, aka The Glock has his moments, and various other teachers help humor the book when things get slow. Even the family dog Blacky has his moments that include his fight with the robot that cleans the pool.
However, despite the humor, this book also has lots of serious themes and moments. This book delves into thoughts on relationships, loss, and friendship in a way that isn't corny. It's a great "coming of age" novel, but I'm sure that you don't have to be a teen to like this book.
This book is a laugh riot that you shouldn't pass up. It may be a little hard to get your hands on it, since it is a South African book, but if you have access to it, I would definitely suggest reading it! Trust me when I say you don't want to miss this one!
Five out of Five stars
See this review, and more like it, here: http://themessengerreviews.blogspot.com/2014/02/spud-spud-1.html ( )
  TheMessengerReviews | Nov 23, 2014 |
Hysterical and touching all at once. I sped through it. ( )
  kateminasian | Nov 22, 2014 |
I'm pretty seriously surprised this book gets the praise it does.
The level of homophobia is extreme--we cheer for Spud leading on 3 girls, but the gay kids are punished for trying to have a sex life? Let's not forget, too, that all of the characters who exhibit homosexual attraction assault Spud and the others, so, y'know--there's a good message to send young readers. The level of violence, and of highly-sexualized violence in particular, in this book was REALLY shocking.
**SPOILERS**
Gecko's death leads nowhere, and while we could say "sometimes death is for no reason" the rest of this book doesn't function in the dark mode that would lead to this conclusion.
I've never seen a book this happy to send the message to boys, "toughen up!" which is the worst kind if outdated, bullshit masculinity.
I'm keeping the book around to show passages of it to students as great examples of what bad books do, ideologically. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
There were points in the book where I had to put it down because I was laughing so hard. Oh man, what a great book to start 2008. ( )
  Rincey | Mar 29, 2013 |
Spud is 14-year old John Milton who writes in his journal about his boarding school experiences. The story is set in South Africa in the 90's, before the fall of the apartheid.

I lost count of how many times this book made me chuckle and sometimes even laugh out loud. The people in Spud's life (both inside and outside the boarding school) are absolutely nuts! I loved the crazy eight and Spud's family.

At the start of the book, there is a Dramatis Personae or a list of characters. This inspired me to create my own favorites list:

Favorite in the family: Dad and Wombat - their antics drove me to stitches! The award for the Craziest of all the Crazies should go to Wombat, hands down.

Favorite in the Crazy Eight: Henry "Gecko" Barker and Vern "Rain Man" Blackadder

Favorite Girl: Mermaid

Favorite Prefect: Grant "Earthworm" Edwards and Gavin-the prefect who lives under the stairs

Favorite Teacher: The Guv

Spud's hilarious accounts are interspersed with his musings on the Apartheid. There is a distinct contrast between Spud's crazy boarding school life and the seriousness of the South African political situation during the time. I confess, I really didn't know a lot about the Apartheid except that it was a race segregation law in SA and reading this book made me want to find out more. ( )
1 vote jinkay | Nov 3, 2010 |
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For my family, who taught me to laugh
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04:30 I am awake.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141323566, Paperback)

It's 1990. Apartheid is crumbling, Nelson Mandela has just been released from prison and thirteen-year-old Spud Milton is about to start his first year at an elite boys-only boarding school. Cursed with embarrassingly dysfunctional parents, a nutty granny and a dormitory full of strange characters, Spud has his hands full trying to adapt to his new home. With only his wits and his diary, he takes readers on a rowdy boarding school romp full of illegal midnight swims, catastrophic cricket matches, ghostbusting escapades, girls and disastrous holidays. South African comedian John van de Ruit invites the reader into the mind of a young boy whose eyes are being opened to love, friendship and complete insanity!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:44 -0400)

In 1990, thirteen-year-old John "Spud" Milton, a prepubescent choirboy, keeps a diary of his first year at an elite, boys-only boarding school in South Africa, as he deals with bizarre housemates, wild crushes, embarrassingly dysfunctional parents, and much more.… (more)

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