1987. Computer obsessed and low-achieving teenager Billy and his friends are desperate to get hold of a copy of Playboy with the famous pictures of Vanna White, but at fourteen it’s a challenge. Along with a local hooligan they make elaborate plans to break into the local convenience store, but it all depends on Billy getting the code from the shopkeeper’s overweight daughter. But as he spends time with her he not only realises she may be the only person who can help him win a computer game design competition, but that she may be more than just a friend…
I don’t think I even read the description of this book before I got it, and now I’m glad I didn’t. I wouldn’t have thought a book with the storyline as described would ever be something I wanted to read, but actually I was touched and compelled by the humanity and understanding that it shows for a lonely teenage boy. We are drawn, totally and without any cynicism or mocking, into his world. And it was great.
The plot turned around itself so well; with Billy’s loyalties to friends, family, schooling, his computing ambitions, decency and love interest all pulling him in different directions. Though in some ways a small plot concerning small things, it is all absorbing for Billy and so to the reader. I was quickly turned away from my initial disinterest in the topics presented and into sympathy and interest in Billy himself.
And it all came together so well. It took me a while to read this book as though I was enjoying it it wasn’t hugely gripping, but the conclusion was totally satisfying. I’m sure to the target audience who (from the cover art…) must actually be teenage boys it would be a quicker read.
So, despite my hesitancy about the content (and that remains – I don’t think anyone should be buying Playboy) I really enjoyed being taken into this world and character’s viewpoint, and was pleased to have read it.