Clarke, John Irving: Who the Hell is Ricky Bell?
Clarke, John Irving
Who the Hell is Ricky Bell?
Currock Press, 2014, pp195, 6.99 [pounds sterling]
978 0 9575422 5 9
Sammy is sassy, smart, and doing as little school work as she can get away with. When mysterious new boy Ricky Bell arrives, all strong silences and moody attitude, she figures they'd make a great team. But Ricky has hidden depths, and she hadn't bargained on him making his way into her heart and turning her world upside down.
This didn't have the most promising start and I geared myself up for a novel of slightly painful imagined teen dialogue, but I have to admit, a few chapters in, to being utterly charmed. Sammy was a funny, engaging heroine, and Ricky worked his way into my affections as subtly as he did Sammy's. As she gets to know Ricky, Sammy is also getting to know herself and this made it, for me, a really realistic portrayal of first relationships.
I suppose at its heart, this is a love story, although it doesn't look like one, and it sidesteps some of the sentimentality you might expect from the genre. It's not the slickest and glossiest example either, which might put a few readers off. This is a great one for reluctant readers, many of whom will appreciate Sammy's sassiness, with a positive message about being yourself, and accepting others for who they are.