4 September 2016

Review #519: Cuckoo by Keren David

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The capacity for friendship is God's way of apologizing for our families.”

----Jay McInerney

Keren David, a Dutch writer, has penned a heart touching and an eye opening YA contemporary book, Cuckoo that narrates the story of a sixteen year old teenager, a talented actor and a household name for his recently cancelled TV series, who found out that his own parents are stealing his hard earned money and is constantly pressurizing him to bag a role in some new show or a movie, eventually making his life a living hell in his own home, thereby forcing him to take shelter in his friends' houses instead of living with his own family.


He's a household name . . . without a home

Jake is an actor, a household name thanks to his role on the UK's most popular soap. But his character went upstairs to his bedroom six months ago and never came down again, and now Jake is facing an uncertain future. Add to that his dad's anger issues, the family's precarious finances and the demands of a severely autistic brother; Jake's home feels like a powder keg waiting to explode. It's easier to spend nights on friends' sofas and futons, but what happens when you feel like a cuckoo in every nest?

Cuckoo is a novel about the roles we play when we don't fit in anywhere, and finding unlikely solace when home is the least welcoming place of all.

Jake has found himself in the middle of a very huge battle when he lost his acting job from a very popular TV series, Market Square where he played the lead role. Jake along with few of his friends decides to host a YouTube series to tell the fans of the Market Square what really happened and what was the main reason behind the cancellation of the show. All the while going through a difficult and challenging phase of life, Jake found out that his own parents are stealing from his own account because of the failing family financial conditions that ultimately forces the whole family to sell their house and move to a small apartment, where Jake needed to share a bedroom with his eighteen year old Autistic brother, Adam. Not only that, Jake's father's anger issues and his tantrums over Jake finding a new acting role, forces Jake out of his own house thereby he takes shelter in his friends' guestrooms or living rooms. Soon things go downhill, as the friends' parents has enough of Jake drama, that finally lands Jake on to the streets, can Jake ever get back to his own home or find a way to homelessness problem?

The whole story is narrated in a format of a YouTube video series script, first explaining the positions of the characters, then the dialogues, and ending with the comments, both positive and negative, so mostly it feels like visualizing a YouTube video through the author's words. The whole idea is quite unique, but that left a gaping hole in the characterization as the readers will get a brief sketch about the characters through their short dialogues.

The author's writing style is articulate as the readers will find it easy to comprehend with the story line. The author has laced her story telling with evocative pain that is strikingly featured into the story line, so that readers will encounter with the sharp metallic taste of real pain while reading this story. The narrative of this book is highly absorbing yet somewhere they lacked depth, which will be difficult for the readers to easily connect with the dialogues and the conversations among the characters. The pacing of the book is really fast, as there are not much layers through which the story unravels, moreover, the story moves smoothly from the beginning to the very end, like any contemporary TV series.

The author here address and arise questions on so many modern day issues that a teenager faces in his life, especially a starlet teenager faces after the fame dies out. The author has handled each and every issue from Autism to Dementia to anger problems to homelessness problems quite sensitively that the readers will find it meaningful and depth to justify those issues instead of feeling offended. The author even depicts the solutions to each such problem with enough realism and logic so that a real life teenager can find it helpful enough to sort those troubles bravely just like the protagonist, Jake.

The characters are quite realistic and well-crafted. The main character, Jake, is a mature young boy despite of his tender age, and as the author throws Jake on the path to big challenges and hurdles, the readers will find themselves rooting for this poor yet brave boy till the very end, but he lacked depth and so the rest of the characters, hence the readers will find at times bit dull to read about Jake's troubles especially the times when he act selfishly. The rest of the cast is okay, not that interesting enough to draw in readers' attention towards them.

In a nutshell, this is a deeply moving and enlightening tale that projects the harsh reality quite strikingly with the heart felt emotions, that it will sympathize the readers' heart and will finally make them see some ugly truth behind the glamorous world of television soap casting and production.

Verdict: Poignant to the very core, a promising story.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book. 

Author Info:
I’ve worked as a journalist since I was 18 when I got a job as a messenger girl for a national newspaper.

I’ve been a reporter, a political correspondent, a news editor, a comment editor, feature writer and in Amsterdam I was editor in chief for a photographic agency. I worked for The Independent for many years, and have also written for many other national newspapers and magazines.

I grew up in Welwyn Garden City and have lived in London, Glasgow and Amsterdam. In 2007 my family moved back to London after eight years in the Netherlands and I decided to try to write a book.

I signed up for a course in Writing for Children at City University which was tutored by Amanda Swift. I got the idea of writing a book about a boy in witness protection, and roughed out a story during a plot-planning exercise in class. That story became my first book When I Was Joe, and eventually a trilogy (with Almost True and Another Life.)

Now I do a bit of journalism, but I mainly write books, visit schools and I’m adapting one book, Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery into a musical. My latest book is Salvage, about siblings Aidan and Cass who were parted as young children, and I’m working on a new book set in Amsterdam.
Visit her here 

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  1. It sounds really good and not the kind of books I usually read so this might be exciting to read !

    great review :)

    Nejoud Is Currently Reading

  2. Thank you for this review! I'm really not a Dutch writer - British, but lived in Amsterdam for a while. Now back in London.

  3. Thank you for this review! I'm really not a Dutch writer - British, but lived in Amsterdam for a while. Now back in London.


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