The Swap

George Layton, Author
George Layton, Author Putnam Publishing Group $16.95 (167p) ISBN 978-0-399-23148-3
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Open Ebook - 160 pages - 978-1-4472-0604-0
Hardcover - 978-0-333-67544-1
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This British import about an all-boys English academy in the 1950s has a nostalgic air, but the peer pressures experienced by the lads in class 1B are timeless. With remarkable sensitivity, the 11-year-old narrator relays 11 loosely connected vignettes. Situated somewhere in the middle of the grammar-school pecking order, the unnamed narrator is dissatisfied with his life: he dreads getting ""thumped"" by the school bully (""He'll hit you for anything, will Arthur Boocock"") and feels sorry for his underling classmates, who stoically withstand cruel taunts. Humiliated by his working-class mother, who does not understand the importance of wearing the proper attire (""We're going to get His Lordship some new school shoes, and do you know what he wants?"") he looks forward to ""the swap,"" when he gets to change places with a London lad for a week. With humor, insight and emotion, actor and television writer Layton explores the moral dilemmas of a self-proclaimed coward yearning for acceptance. Those who consider the young hero's growth a painful trial should reserve judgment until they reach the closing story's upbeat note: the swap shows the narrator that he has much to cherish about his life. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
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