Me, my Dad and the end of the Rainbow
My name's Archie Albright, and I know two things for certain:
1. My mum and dad kind of hate each other, and they're not doing a great job of pretending that they don't anymore.
2. They're both keeping a secret from me, but I can't figure out what.
Things aren't going great for Archie Albright. His dad's acting weird, his mum too, and he all he wants is for everything to go back to normal, to three months before when his parents were happy and still lived together. When Archie sees a colourful, crumpled flyer fall out of Dad's pocket, he thinks he may have found the answer. Only problem? The answer might just lie at the end of the rainbow, an adventure away.
Together with his best friends, Bell and Seb, Archie sets off on a heartwarming and unforgettable journey to try and fix his family, even if he has to break a few rules to do it...
Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow is the debut middle grade novel by Benjamin Dean. It's brilliant. It's heartwarming and life affirming and it needs to be in schools. Every child needs to see themselves represented in books and there are children out there that will see themselves and their families in this book.
The story is from the point of view of Archie, a 12 year old boy whose parents have just split up. He doesn't really know why they have split up other than they haven't been getting along for a while and they argue a lot. Early on in the book he discovers that his dad is gay (apologies for the spoiler but it's revealed very early in the book) and this is the main issue that the book centres around-how Archie and his family come to terms with this fact.
Archie has two close friends, Seb and Bell who are great characters-they are funny and supportive and perfect friends for him. He also has Oscar to talk to, who is 18 and in his final year of school and occasionally babysits Archie; he also happens to be gay. So this is who Archie initially turns to for advice. Archie and his dad find their relationship has become a bit awkward after the news comes out but Archie, with the support of Seb and Bell, come up with a plan to reconnect with his dad and get back to the relationship they used to have-the plan leads them on an adventure full of laughs and a dose of peril where they meet a host of brilliant, colourful characters that help them.
I think this story should probably be in every upper KS2 and KS3 classroom. It represents LBGT+ people positively and not as 'different' and there will be children that identify with Archie and his dad, they will have the same questions and the same worries about how their relationship and family might change and more than that, it's just a really enjoyable, brilliant, funny story. It reminded me a bit of The Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates-which also involves a group of friends going on an adventure and has a son reconnecting with his dad as a central theme.
This is such a lovely story, I really enjoyed reading it. It is told with a lot of humour and there are some brilliantly touching moments between the various characters that clearly love and care for each other. I don't want to reveal too much about the story but there is a very positive message in here that basically reminds Archie and anyone else that cares that his dad is still the same person, just because he is gay doesn't mean he is going to change.
I like the way this story normalises and celebrates the LBGT+ community. From the way Oscar and his boyfriend Dean are accepted in their school to the way Archie and his friends show concern for his dad it sends out a message of acceptance and reminds us to value people for who they are-it reminds us to see the whole person, not the label. Prejudice and intolerance are hinted occasionally but on the whole this is a story of positivity and family.
The book comes out on 4th February 2021 and I can heartily recommend it to anyone who likes a funny story, full of heart and brilliant characters. I had a big smile on my face at the end of the book and I have to admit a tear in my eye (but it was a happy tear!).
Here are a couple of links for anyone who is interesting in buying the book.