"When Romeo Makhlouf finally gets together with Stefanie, the girl he's had a thing for for ages, he can't stop smiling. He may be an average student, not that great at footie, and his dad has barely spoken to him since his mum died five years earlier, but he can forget all that when she smiles at him. His happiness is short-lived; Stef's ex, Luke, will make sure of that.
There's a fight a brewing and no one can back down. A few good punches and a viral YouTube video later, Romeo thinks it's all over. It's far from over - the honour of the Ozzies is at stake and there's mounting pressure on Romeo from all the Lebs (Lebanese) at school. Is there any way out for Romeo?
An incredibly 'relatable' book, Chebatte captures her teenage characters perfectly - particularly the key relationship between Romeo and his best mate, Diz; the near-constant playfighting, teasing and underlying unspoken emotions - the physicality of teenage boys. Filled with slang, text messages and lame jokes, it will appeal to reluctant readers - and there's some intertextuality with Romeo and Juliet for those who like to look deeper.
I laughed and gasped and then bawled my eyes out right through the climax and beyond. I had to put the book down and go for a walk. This book was mentioned in our last newsletter but I just had to write a proper review as I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I'm reminded of it every morning as I wait for my bus surrounded by the local college boys. They should all read it. You should too.
Realistic and "relatable" for 12+."
What happens when you mix teenage boys, a fight club and ethnic rivalries? You get war.Romeo Makhlouf knows the rules. Stick with your own kind. Don't dob on your mates or even on your enemies. Respect the family. But even unwritten rules are made for breaking.
Helen Chebatte is a writer, actor and drama teacher living in Sydney.