Michael Gerard Bauer, The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy & Me, Omnibus Books/Scholastic Australia, 1 May 2016, 272pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781742991504
Maggie Butt has just three goals for the new school year: make at least one friend, get an A for English and find a date for the Year Ten Dance. Sounds relatively straightforward, right? Life’s not quite that simple for the slightly delusional Maggie, as she lurches from major embarrassment to epic disappointment on a regular basis. But with enthusiastic support from her mother’s annoying new boyfriend (The Pain), Maggie begins to see the world from different perspectives. She has to deal with mean girls, tough teachers and an ugly, orphaned cat—amongst many other obstacles getting in the way of her ‘to do’ list.
Award-winning author Michael Gerard Bauer (The Running Man and Don’t Call Me Ishmael!) has created an authentic and likeable character in Maggie, who is sure to resonate with readers through her realistic teenage struggles and self-deprecating humour. We follow Maggie’s daily mishaps through her eyes and learn along with her as she sprinkles Shakespearean references throughout the narrative, creating fun parallels between Macbeth and her life. The Pain’s corny habit of turning everyday conversations into song is a trip down memory lane of vintage music. Sir Tiffy also has an important role, helping Maggie through some tough times, with gentle themes of love, loyalty and acceptance.
The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy & Me is a mouthful of title, but by the end of Maggie’s story, all the characters tie neatly together. With short chapters and plenty of teenage language and references, it’s an entertaining read that leaves the reader with the hint of another Maggie Butt adventure in the pipeline—let’s hope so.
Reviewed by Jane O’Connell