A punch in the face sets Clucky and Vusi on the start of an unlikely friendship.
Clucky is a bit of a loner. His mother and sister still suffer from the impact of his father’s sudden death, with his mother refusing to leave the house and his sister now alienated from the family. Vusi is largely housebound due to Hodgkins disease and is cared for by a nurse while his parents also hover. Yet Vusi convinces Clucky to join him as he works to create a zombie film. On set around their neighborhood, these two youngsters are joined by Chris, a schoolmate of Clucky’s. When Chris suggests they use a garage that houses her imprisoned brother’s possessions, the trio place themselves in the crosshairs of a local gang, which happens to have Clucky’s sister’s boyfriend as its leader. In one painful encounter with the gang, Vusi’s dreams are dashed. Clucky, desperate to fix things, rallies the community to pull off the impossible. Jacobs, a South African writing in Afrikaans, uses naming convention to hint at ethnicity, while Tierney’s illustrations depict Clucky and Chris as white and Vusi as black. Death is present in both reference to Clucky’s father’s accident and Vusi’s illness, but Jacobs delicately weaves it throughout the tale in a way that both celebrates life and places importance on human connection as it affects the lives of those who remain.
An emotive and enjoyable read. (Fiction. 10-14)