This is a tender and totally believable YA novel by a writer who knows unseen places, unheard people and untold stories. He knows because he has lived a life that might have remained hidden if he hadn't found within him the urge and talent to write. His previous books spoke to many who were not regular readers. This one will excite the urban young because their world is brought alive on the pages and those who raised in green and pleasant lands. Funny, painful, gritty and soft, this is a lovely book.
Ultimately, my favourite book of this season has to be Liccle Bit, the first novel for young adults by Alex Wheatle, author of Brixton Rock. It's not for nothing that he was named the Brixton Bard. This is a book that sings with warmth, in spite of its tough setting - in the midst of a gang war - and contains lines that dance. Liccle Bit is the second shortest guy in his year and has the hots for Venetia King, though he knows that "fit girls don't usually go for short brothers". But his sister's ex, Manjoro, wants him to do a "liccle errand" for him, and then another, and when there's a killing on the estate, he worries that he is embroiled. A gritty delight - a liccle smile on every page.
What a gripping tale of family and friends, love and loyalty . . . Lemar's voice is so strong and I loved the humour in it too.
Breathing new life into a genre currently obsessed with vampires, dystopian visions or mawkishly sentimental stories, this tale set in a contemporary high-rise estate is topical and also a triumph of language . . . Wise as well as witty, understanding rather than blinkered, this novel is a joy to read