I finished this book last night, and really enjoyed it! Here is my review:
A heartfelt and stressful teen read, especially if you grew up in the 70s
Little Bastard was such a wonderful read. It’s very clean, very teenage, and a little nostalgic to anyone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Robin is 14, and has a much older brother, Jason. Robin wishes he was as tall, as strapping, as confident, and as free as his brother Jason, but instead as he’s the youngest his mum still babies him rather a lot.
This novel focuses on the dynamic between four characters, Jason, Robin, their mom Rose, and Jason’s girlfriend Cherry. Robin has a massive crush on Cherry, and at times his spying on their shenanigans had me reading through my fingers almost unable to witness what he was witnessing. Corbin manages to ratchet up the tension in these scenes to such a degree that I found it virtually unbearable and did put it down for a break because I couldn’t stand if Robin got caught spying through keyholes.
Jason is the worst kind of older brother, one we all can relate to. We’ve all had friends who had the cooler older brother, someone who was adult when we were still considered ‘children’, and on every level you can relate to Robin and his interactions with his family, but also you empathise with Robin every single time Jason picks on him. They have such distrust between them that Robin is always cautious about being within striking distance to Jason. But Jason is loveable, I liked him a lot. He’s a typical poser being the tough nut no one can crack.
Reading this novel is like revisiting your childhood, and even if you didn’t grow up in the 70’s every issue Robin goes through you can relate to now, today. But this was pre-internet, pre-cellphone, and pre-home-computer days. As such life was more insular, you had to make your own fun, your imagination was your worst enemy, and word of mouth was the way most of us got life advice. Thrown back into this era when you open this novel you’ll be reminded how absolutely everyone who was adult back then, smoked. Weekends were about cocktail parties at the office, long sideburns, beers and street parties. Three things were missing for me, 1) Prawn cocktail. 2) Bright orange and yucky brown decor and clothing, and 3) Avocado bathroom sets. Those three things are synonymous with the 70’s, and aren’t mentioned in this novel (and I can hear the crowds cheering a collective amen to that).
Overall I would classify this as a teenage drama, but any adult can relate to it (especially if you’re raising teens yourself). The author managed to make the reader feel 14 again, stressed and depressed, cornered between a rock and a hard place, with some major relationship obstacles and mistakes in his near future. Robin strikes out after Jason destroys the one thing Robin holds very dear to his heart. Jason has a motorbike, he has his own money, he has the hottest girlfriend in the universe, he can come and go as he pleases, he’s good looking and muscular, is a complete success with the ladies, and he can smoke and drink and talk to mom adult to adult, and then he takes the one and only thing precious to Robin. It’s a catalyst for Robin finally snapping, finally doing something so mega he will regret it for the rest of his life. Interspersed with this personal hell are iconic moments in the social history of the 70’s. Elvis Presley dies, Marc Bolan dies, the book starts with the legend of James Dean’s car (Little Bastard) and its curse, addressing the death of an iconic legend from the get go, and also points out how taste in music divided the young adults of the 70’s and 80’s. Music defined you, it was your identity, and if you listened to the wrong music it could make or break a relationship. At the same time the royal family have momentous occasions celebrated by the entire nation, and the patriotism rife in the era is showcased gloriously in these pages.
Overall I loved it, I couldn’t stop reading it once I started, and heartily recommend it with a full 5 stars.
A brilliant novel which puts a bygone era on a pedestal for the teens of today to envy, and for the forever ‘teens in your heads’ to reminisce to. It’s got no dramatics, nothing was over the top, it was completely authentic and believable. It’s like being a fly on a wall in someone else’s life while also being able to read their mind to know the misery they’re hiding. It was raw and unfiltered, exposing how hard begin a teenage boy is (and how confusing women are), and it was brilliant.