Read of the Week

Reggie & Me

James Hendry

Pan Macmillan

Review: Lindiwe Mlandu

I love the smell of books; turning the pages and using paper bookmarks is part of the reading experience.

However, due to the national lockdown, I could not get my hands on the hard copy of this book so I had to settle for an e-book.

I must say I was hooked from the first chapter of Reggie & Me, which is set in the turbulent 1980s in Johannesburg.

It tells the story of an awkward, clumsy, quirky and bad-tempered boy from a white, middle-class family.

Hamish Charles Sutherland Fraser is not good at sport and fails to make friends due to his lack of social etiquette which really embarrasses his parents. He is small for his age so he gets bullied at school.

Eventually, he makes one friend, Reggie. Unlike other children at school, Reggie doesn’t judge Hamish. They become thick as thieves but Reggie has other friends while Hamish continues to be a recluse.

Reggie moves away and Hamish is left all alone. His younger brother grows up quickly and is soon bigger than Hamish. The first-born is the black sheep in the family and he’s prone to angry outbursts.

At school, he masters the art of looking busy as he doesn’t have any friends to hang out with.

Academically, he’s barely making it. This is largely due to his lack of focus. Despite all his challenges and his small frame, he loves rugby.

He’s in the D-team because he’s bad at rugby, but he pushes on with the dream of making it into the school’s first XV.

The book also touches on the realities of the 1980s and early 1990s in South Africa.

Hamish and his family live a sheltered life while the black majority fight to end apartheid.

As a family, they choose not to get involved in politics. Despite this, Hamish despises injustice. He stands up against racism when his school opens its doors to students of all races in the early 1990s. His solidarity could be due to the fact that he knows what it feels like to be an outcast.

I was laughing out loud throughout the book, which was exactly what I needed during these uncertain times.

It’s a hilarious story of an extremely awkward person who dared to dream. Some of his dreams were realised, but mostly he was the butt of jokes.

To win a hard copy of Reggie & Me, send an email with your name, phone number and the area where you live to entertain.ccn@inl.co.za before midnight on Sunday May 17. The book will be delivered to the winner when it is safe to do so.