Review: Thomas Titans Book I: Men Among Boys
Were your kids one of the many children who grew up reading the popular Diary of Amos Lee books?
If so, they may just find themselves fans of Thomas Titans: Men Among Boys, the first book of a new series by local author Adeline Foo, who created the Amos Lee series.
Foo, a mother of three young kids, started writing children's books in 2006. As her children grow up, so have the characters of Foo's books.
While the Amos Lee diaries chronicle the everyday adventures of a nine-year-old boy, Foo's new series is the coming-of-age tale of troubled teen Ayush Lee.
Reflecting the often-difficult process of adolescence and growing up, the book is a lot more intense than Foo's earlier works.
The story revolves around Ayush, a Chinese-Indian (or "Chindian") 13-year-old with a single mum and no inkling of who his father is.
Grappling with not having a father and his mixed-race parentage, Ayush gets into plenty of trouble. He gets into fights with juvenile gangster-wannabes and is even briefly involved in a mobile phone theft racket.
The turning point comes when he gets into Thomas S. R. Institute, a top secondary school. There, he befriends Lasso, a hefty Filipino schoolmate who is also Ayush's teammate on the school's basketball team.
Their friendship, however, is complicated by Ayush's unfortunate knack for attracting trouble and the boys' shared crush on Ariel, a pretty girl with a privileged background.
Peppered with vividly described basketball games and harrowing situations which befall Ayush and Lasso, the story is compelling, and heartbreaking and funny by turns.
While readers will cheer Ayush on as he navigates his difficult circumstances, they are likely to identify with his struggles on the road to self-discovery and self-acceptance - as well as his gawky efforts to impress the girl of his dreams.
My favourite character, however, is Lasso: Goofily endearing in his loyalty to Ayush and his earnest devotion to Ariel, Lasso is hugely likable and provides plenty of comic moments in the book.
An original coming-of-age tale with a cast of colourful characters and plenty of local flavour, Thomas Titans: Men Among Boys would be an engaging addition to the bookshelf of the young adult in one's home.
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