Useless by Tanya Landman - Barrington Stoke Book 42

Right from the first page there are some great phrases in Useless by Tanya Landman. A phrase like "her lips shut tight as a cat's bum", is going to catch anyone's attention. Just the right level of naughtiness for a reading partnership.

Despite this tone, the book covers some serious issues. Rob's dad left and he blames his Mum. Despite not seeing him for two years, Rob hero worships his departed Dad. So when a new man arrives in the house, he is instantly "the enemy".

I really like books where the reader can't trust everything a character is telling us. I believe it is called an unreliable narrator. It credits the reader with some intelligence as they can read-between-the-lines. I also think it makes the book ideal for discussion and prediction, so again, perfect for a reading partnership.

Rob begins to see sense. He gets to like his Mum's new man, "it was like peace had been declared". And when his Dad arrives on the scene, he gets a deeper understanding.

The tone is jokey, and there are just 40 pages of text and 10 intriguing illustrations. But Useless covers some traumatic themes, including alcoholism, very sensitively.

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