Orangeboy is just as good as everyone said. Patrice Lawrence has written about being young and black, and male, in London today, without making it.., I was going to say ‘too grim’ but it obviously is grim. Just not in the way it could have been, given its topic.
16-year-old Marlon, from a good home in north London, can’t believe his luck when beautiful blonde Sonya chooses to go out with him. But you know what they say, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably won’t end well.
The date from hell gets its grips into Marlon, who so far has tried hard not to be what his older brother Andre was at the same age, finding that it is rather hard to escape crime and gangs once things have gone wrong.
His mum expects him to revise for his GCSEs, while Marlon finds out far too much about drugs and weapons and the police. And much violence. As a loving son he attempts to protect his mum while adhering to the rules that say you don’t tell, even on your enemies.
And he’s only 16, so maybe has to be excused from using common sense and telling trusted adults what’s going on. He does have a great friend across the road, but she’s also young.
I couldn’t see how this could end well, but felt that it had to, at least partly, without selling out and getting too unbelievably sugary. You just want to read on and on, and the 432 pages melt away as you pray Marlon will be safe.