Boys Don’t Knit was the second book I read in June for #aryaclub, a young adult book club. Tom Easton read from Boy’s Don’t Knit back in March at the Drink Shop Do Speakeasy. I rarely find books that are ‘laugh out out’-funny, but Tom’s reading was so hilarious that it made everyone on my table want to read the book even more – so we did.
After Ben Fletcher gets into a kerfuffle with a lollipop lady, which isn’t really his fault at all, he narrowly avoids the Young Offenders Unit by pledging to Give Something Back to the community. He has to take an extra-curricular activity at the local community college, choosing between Car Maintenance (run by his Dad – no way), Microsoft Office (boring), Pottery (embarrassing) and Knitting (even more embarrassing). He reluctantly chooses Knitting because it’s taught by his favourite teacher, Jessica Swallow, only to find out there was a mistake in the scheduling. It’s run by a different teacher (the mother of a girl he quite likes), so now he’s going to have to convince her not to mention it to anyone. Ever. Ben starts lessons only to find that he has quite a knack for it. Not telling anyone starts to become tricky when he actually begins to enjoy it…
Boys Don’t Knit takes place over 8 months and we see Ben Fletcher go from Knitting Sceptic to Knitter Extraordinaire. He’s such a fantastic protagonist, with a realistic, stand out voice. His passion for knitting is contagious and it got us all talking about learning to knit (and trying to convince some of our friends to teach us). It’s something that I’ve ‘always’ said that I ‘want to learn’, but never have. Reading about the impressive clothes Ben creates (plus he jots down all the knowledge that is needed in knitting!) shows just how much hard work goes into it. I loved hearing about knitting groups and knitting podcasts – it made me realise how it’s not that different from when a bunch of book lovers get together. I also loved the Britishness (something which I hope isn’t taken away when it’s published in the US next year). I realised this year that I don’t read as much UKYA as I should, and Boys Don’t Knit shows how much fun a book can be when you recognise all the cultural references, no matter how tiny and insignificant they are. I read a lot of contemporary YA lately, but Boys Don’t Knit offers something new and fresh – and not just because it has a male protagonist.
Boys Don’t Knit is entertaining, silly and ridiculous – it’s a lot of fun! But it’ll also get your rooting for Ben Fletcher and for the right for boys and girls to take up any hobby they want, regardless of gender stereotypes. An English Boy in New York is the next book in the series, which I’m really looking forward to reading. I can only imagine what Ben Fletcher might get up to next as he continues to navigate the world of knitting and girls…
Published: 2nd January 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!