The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy and Me (Michael Gerard Bauer, Omnibus)
Michael Gerard Bauer returns to writing for young adults with a story about the rollercoaster nature of life that every individual experiences—the moments of happiness and sadness, the unexpected surprises and chances, all connected into one expansive tapestry. The ‘me’ of the title refers to Maggie Butt, who struggles to deal with changes at home—in particular the arrival of her mother’s new boyfriend, labelled by our narrator as The Pain, the invader of Castle Butt—and at school, where she aims to make at least one good friend, find a partner to the graduation dance, and get back an A in English after receiving a lower-than-expected mark for her latest essay. Maggie’s life is far from perfect, but the entrance of Sir Tiffy the Cat and Jeremy the Cyber Boy, among others, may become her saving grace if she opens up and accepts the opportunities life has provided for her. Young adult readers will enjoy Maggie’s sarcastic humour and will be able to relate to her circumstances. However, the ending is a bit too simple and underwhelming. Bauer’s latest offering is a light-hearted read that is suitable for readers aged 12 and up.
Braiden Asciak is a bookseller at Book Bonding in Melbourne