Mulligan, Andy Ribblestrop, 374 p. Beach Lane (Random), 2015. $17. Language: PG (5+ swears), Mature Content: PG-13 (children drinking and smoking); Violence: PG-13 (attacks, drilling into brain).
Sam, 12, is determined to enroll in the Ribblestrop private school, despite his parents’ misgivings. From before he steps foot on his train, his journey and experience seems to barrel headlong towards disaster. Sanchez is the son of a Columbian gangster, Millie seems to be an arsonist and thief. The others at their small school are no less bizarre. The plot involves secret underground science experiments, two cut-throat soccer games, lightning strikes and the world’s craziest educational program ever (that is not so bad, eally – I kind of like the programme).
It says right on the cover that this book won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and I am completely mystified as to why. WHY? This book is brutal and crazy and I would call it a hot mess. Put it down and walk away quickly.