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May 2024 Book of the Month

Category: Library, Monthly Book Reviews

Northern Soul – Phil Earle

Northern Soul is a brilliantly awkward tale of first love which had me laughing and cringing in equal measure.  Marv is a 14-year-old boy whose life revolves around football and his best friend Jimmy until new girl Carly, walks into his class.  Suddenly, Carly becomes the only thing he can think about.  Unfortunately, he is invisible to Carly and when he does engineer a conversation with her, he becomes tongue tied and completely embarrasses himself. 

At home his Croc-wearing father can offer Marv little in the way of useful advice.   But then Marv hears his dad playing the music of soul legend Otis Redding on his record player, and he realises that the only man who truly understands him and who can help him is Otis Redding himself. A man who died in plane crash in 1967.  He falls asleep listening to his music and wakes up to find a fast-food eating, Yorkshire version of Otis in his room who is more than willing to mentor him in matters of love. 

Things do not go to plan for Marv and I found myself shouting out loud at the book, “Don’t do it, Marv, please don’t say that” as his attempts to woo Carly become more and more agonising.  I won’t spoil the laugh out loud moments for you but when I say his final attempt to win over Carly becomes a TikTok sensation, you’ll realise that it doesn’t end well for Marv.

The author, Phil Earle, describes this as a cautionary tale, a tale of how not to find a girlfriend or a boyfriend and many of the events in the book are drawn from his own experiences.  It feels totally authentic.  Published by Barrington Stoke, who bring us super readable, accessible books, this is a quick read (only 91 pages) which will appeal to anyone who’s ever written bad poetry for someone or been thwarted by love.

Check out Marv’s Floorfillers and Bangers (20 soul tunes inspired by the book Northern Soul) on Spotify and more Barrington Stoke stories in the Quick Reads section of the library.

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