Few books can start with the word ‘nob-ache’ and get away with it. In fact few writers would probably be brave enough to have the balls to do it at all. I’ve been desperate to get my hands on One Seriously Messed-Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane & Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite (full title and it’s a mouth full!) this debut book from Tom Clempson for some time now and in the lead up to the release and reading his sneak peak Facebook and tweet quotes from it, I wanted to read it all the more. It had me in fights of giggles everyday on my lunch break and journey home reading these snippets of Jack Samsonite’s world so the whole book was bound to have me struggling to breathe through the laughter!
I think I should probably be thankful to Mr Clempson and Jack for giving me an insight (perhaps often to descriptive and graphic insight) into the mind of teenage boy. Having never been a teenage boy I think there is a lot in One Seriously Messed-Up Week… that made me think ‘Boy, is that REALLY what teenager boys think/do/go through’. It’s very Adrian Mole but for the facebooking, tweeting, texting generation. I must point out that growing up I was probably a bit of female Jack Samsonite myself. I didn’t stand out bit I always didn’t really fit in either. I most DEFINATELY had my own personal soundtrack going on but I can safely say I didn’t do the whole talking to invisible camera thing. That’s just weird Jack. The constant drips of pop culture and film and music references make this a tangible place to exist and having it all in a literal diary format makes Jack so personable and relatable to read; even when he is acting like a bit of idiot.
Jack is a real boy, with all the gross factors that I imagine from discussing bodily functions that make you have the ‘car crash moment’ when you don’t want to look but you just can’t turn away. His world is partly made up from his point of view, he even changes his name for the book because he thinks it sounds cooler, and it’s a 15 year old world view with the end of the world being if you get embarrassed in class or beat up and your life is consumed by one thing; YOU. I remember at that age that all I could concern myself was me and how I looked or if I looked like an idiot too. Admittedly I often did look like an idiot but it was mainly on purpose because I was a “rebel” with dyed hair that wanted to be “different”. I’d probably be one of the Metallers but without the drug taking.
This is a fantastic debut from a seriously funny author that gets you into the mind of a teenager without being condescending or patronizing about it. It’s a warts and all story and I can only be thankful and disgusted at it (in a good way of course). I had to physically muffle my fits of giggles gone midnight as I finished the book. From start to finish it’s a comedy you’ll find irresistible. I am passing my copy along to my 15 year old cousin in the hopes that a) he actually reads a book for once b) finds a friend in Jack and c) realises that one week can be seriously messed-up but the next can be fine. You need to remember that one week as a teen can fill a ream of notebooks but in the long term you’ll be laughing so hard remembering how awful you thought reading out loud in class was.