Growing up is hard enough for Philip Wright–all that school and bullies and girls that make his pupils go heart-shaped–but when his mother starts acting a little weird, it’s all he can do to just keep smiling. But one thing Philip is good at is humour: he’s an aspiring comedian, and a big fan of Harry Hill, one of Britain’s (real-life) comedy kings. So he does his best to deploy his wit and charm in all directions: at his mother, who seems to just be cleaning and crying; at his best friend Ang, who is just acting stranger and stranger; and at girl-of-his-dreams Lucy, an attempt that doesn’t always go as smoothly as Philip would hope for. Still, everything’s mostly okay, yeah?
When is turns out that Philip’s mother is sick–the serious kind of sick–the rest of his life immediately goes pear-shaped. His mother is acting totally bizarre; Ang might as well be on another planet and he’s busting out some moves on Lucy; and that same Lucy acts as if the school Yeti (not actually a yeti, because yetis are probably nicer) is actually nice and not the worst bully around. All he can do is write letters to his beloved Harry Hill, keep cracking jokes, and hope that laughter really is the best medicine. And while I can’t say that laughter will cure cancer, if you’ve got any small ailments, I’d highly recommend this book–it’s completely hilarious, even when it’s heartbreaking. Philip is funny on purpose and a crack-up non-on-purpose, and if you can get through this book without laughing, I’ll eat my hat*. A great book for anyone looking for some comic relief, or relief from the frustration that is being a kid, or wants to read about someone else experiencing cancer in their lives without getting super bummed out, but also doesn’t want a book that skips the important and sometimes irritating things that come with trying to fight it.
*I don’t, when I think about it, own any hats, so really I’m safe either way.