The Boy in the Suit

James Fox

I’m not crying, you are! This debut novel from James Fox is such a warm, thought provoking read.

10 year old Solo lives with his Mum, Morag. As with all 10 year olds, he wants to be normal. To have a normal name, wear normal clothes, have a normal mum who doesn’t have the Big Bad Reds. But most of all, he doesn’t want to keep crashing funerals just to be able to eat.

When they get caught crashing the funeral of a local footballer, Solo’s life looks like it will never be normal. He becomes a viral sensation known as Funeral Boy’. Morag’s Big Bad Reds make her very tricky to predict & live with. She makes Solo run from a school uniform shop, stealing the brand new uniform and is caught on CCTV. Everything becomes too much for Morag to bear and she disappears.

After a few days with no sign of Morag, Solo and his new friend Chetna sneak away from a school trip to try and find her. But they still can’t find her, when they miss the bus home Chetna spills the beans to the teachers about what’s happened. Solo finally gets to meet his Dad who takes him home whilst the search for Morag continues. When she is found, it becomes clear that she needs specialist support so Solo moves in with his dad permanently. 

Solo is like so many other children, living in a home with a parent who is struggling with the cost of living, mental ill health and unemployment. He faces the challenge of being different, of having to keep secrets and of caring for his parent. That stigma prevents him from opening up to anyone. So much for a young person to go through. 

A perfect book for older readers or for prompting some class discussions on what life can be like for some people and how being kind can make a huge difference.

Published by Scholastic, September 2024

Reviewed by Tash Hyde