Real Boys, and Everyone Else, Should Read This Funny Book

BookendsLynn: Seventeen-year-old Ben Fletcher’s life is one big tangle in T. S. Easton’s British import Boys Don’t Knit (In Public) (2015). Analytical, responsible, and a world-class worrier, Ben is a good kid but lately everything has gone wrong. Reluctantly pulled into a shoplifting scheme as a lookout by his friends, Ben is the one caught and now he’s on probation! His sentence includes keeping a journal and attending classes at the community college where the choices are totally lame. There’s auto mechanics taught by his father or pottery taught by his hot English teacher, but there’s a mixup and Ben finds himself in a knitknitting class.

Too nice to flee, Ben discovers he actually LIKES knitting and is really good at it. Math-whiz Ben sees the patterns in his mind and finds the steady click of needles as soothing as a good quadratic equation. But it’s one more huge worry for Ben as he does everything in his power to hide knitting from his friends, parents, teachers, bullies at school, and even the girl he really likes because Boys Don’t Knit! Then, Ben’s teacher enters him in a competition which gets announced at school and every stitch Ben has been so carefully crafting falls apart.

You don’t have to be a knitter to love this book, although I agree completely with Ben in his dislike of color-work. There are a host of wonderful characters at the heart of this warm and very funny story. Ben’s double-entendre-loving parents are a delight, and when did you ever meet a mom in a story who’s a stage magician? The rest of characters are a joy as well: Ben’s rather dim but loyal friends, the senior-citizen crossing guard to whom Ben is Giving Something Back To with community service, the knitting competition opponent who cheats, the footballer in love with his teacher, and even his harassed probation officer all add sweetly to the story.

Teens are sure to groan and ewwww at the
parents’ food-based sexual double entendres.

Here’s a book that will make you smile, fall in love with the characters, and maybe even lure you into the joys of knitting!

Cindy: Lynn tried to teach me to knit a few years ago and I managed to complete 2/3 of a wobbly looking scarf. I don’t have Ben’s immediate skills with this art, but it was fun to read about it. Teens are sure to groan and ewwww at the parents’ food-based sexual double entendres that make Ben want to vomit now that he understands their meanings. But how refreshing to have parents who still love each other … something we don’t often see in YA lit. Lynn didn’t mention the catastrophe that is the knitting competition. In the midst of complete chaos caused by Ben’s friends and the bullies, Ben says, “I expect the security guards thought this might be quite an easy gig.” Not so much.

A few weeks ago I had an 8th-grade boy looking for a book to read and I had just finished this one. I gave him a quick book talk and he was willing to give it a go. I don’t know if he read it in public or if he hid it away in a backpack, but he checked it out. I’m sorry that I wasn’t in the building when he returned it to get his opinion. I’m betting he laughed his way through and loved it. You will too.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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