Grow Up

( 2 )


In this bawdy, raucous, and unabashedly frank novel, youth is certainly not wasted on the young

Hailed as "one of the most hilarious and well-observed accounts of teenage debauchery you are ever likely to read" by the trendsetting British lifestyle magazine Dazed & Confused, Ben Brooks's Grow Up is a shocking, stylish, and very modern coming-of-age story.

As Jasper J. Wolf careens through high school, his list of to-dos includes: get high ...

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Grow Up: A Novel

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In this bawdy, raucous, and unabashedly frank novel, youth is certainly not wasted on the young

Hailed as "one of the most hilarious and well-observed accounts of teenage debauchery you are ever likely to read" by the trendsetting British lifestyle magazine Dazed & Confused, Ben Brooks's Grow Up is a shocking, stylish, and very modern coming-of-age story.

As Jasper J. Wolf careens through high school, his list of to-dos includes: get high with friends, seduce the hottest girl in school, and, last but not least, expose his stepfather as a murderer. But as growing up soon teaches him, what he wants and what he gets are often wildly different—and decidedly unexpected.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brooks's latest (after Fences) follows British teen and aspiring novelist Jasper James Wolf in his post-ironic and frequently post-literate quest to pass his O-levels, peg his stepfather as a murderer, and have sex with unattainable classmate Georgia Treely. While pining for Georgia, pretty much anyone or anything will do—even, in one unfortunately memorable instance, his stepfather's golf sock. Jasper—so young, so bored, so boring—spends his time pretending to study for his university entrance exams, getting high on various drugs, and having sex with sometimes unwilling women. After he confesses to having drugged and subsequently seduced a classmate, his best friend, Tenaya, gallantly reassures him: "That sounds like most of the sex most teenage girls ever have." But Brooks's greatest offense isn't tastelessness; it's dullness. Jasper's antics are funny for the first 30 pages, but there isn't enough plot development to propel us to the realization he comes to on the last page (and which the discerning reader will surmise almost immediately). Toward the end of this slog, Jasper declares, "I am Holden Caulfield, only less reckless and more attractive." Holden could spot a phony like this from a mile away. (May)
The Observer (U.K.)
“Liquid Gold.”
Dazed & Confused
“I thought [Grow Up] was amazing. One of the most hilarious and well observed accounts of teenage debauchery you are ever likely to read….Alarmingly good. Jasper is great fun, naively perceptive, often LOL-funny company. A totally convincing portrait of being a wayward teenager now . . . It’s so pertinent it actually kind of trips you out.”
The Scotsman (U.K.)
“A sharp and witty exploration of adolescent life…Grow Up is one part serious, the rest is simply laugh-out loud funny….{Brooks] is able to deal with issues such as self-harm and suicide with a tenderness and sensitivity that one would have thought beyond his years….contagiously funny, well-written and no doubt marks the start of a promising career for a talented young writer.”
Times (U.K.)
“Brilliantly captures 21st-century youth. Hilarious.”
“I couldn’t stop reading Grow Up.
“Funny from unexpected places.”
“A dirty, dirty book. It is a wonderfully filthy book.”
“A vicious, often hilarious—and hilariously blunt—microcosm of contemporary, ketamine-addicted British youth.”
“An undeniably fun read, thanks to the leanness of its prose and its sense of humour, which is as sharp as it is affected. This is Oscar Wilde with a Tumblr account, or Martin Amis remixed by Skrillex.”
Michael Cart
“An amusing, sometimes ironic look at one fairly feckless lad’s coming-of-age…What comes as a surprise is the wonderfully poetic voice Brooks has given his protagonist…Eat your heart out, Holden Caufield [sic].”
Chris Killen
“Engaging, funny and sharply-written. I loved how [Grow Up] manages to be both brutally uncompromising and gloriously warm-hearted.”
Noel Fielding
“Ben Brooks is a magical imp who pumps out dark nuggets of poetry and makes you snort with laughter.”
Tim Key
“Sickeningly good. So confident, so stylish. An unacceptably witty and original debut.”
Independent on Sunday (U.K.)
“Navigates the travails of school and beyond with a quick wit.”
Kirkus Reviews
Hyper–self-aware young British writer writes novel about same. Add sex and drugs and stir. One might not expect the fifth outing from indie author Brooks (born in 1992, in Gloucestershire, England) to be so eminently readable, but this U.K. bestseller proves to be the exception to the rule. Its protagonist, Jasper J. Wolf, imagines himself as a prettier Holden Caulfield, but the end game reveals that the self-reflective young writer is more along the lines of a John Hughes hero, albeit with volumes more narcotics. Jasper is in the midst of preparing for his A-level exams, leaving him loads of time to hang out with his mates, plot the downfall of his stepfather, stalk the extremely fit Georgia Treely and generally put his various organs where they don't belong. There's a timeless if caustic quality to Jasper's minimalist rants: "Doing sex with a girl for over seven minutes is something to be proud of. Being British is not," he laments. Whenever there aren't girls to seduce or Ketamine to be snorted, he retreats to the company of lothario Jonah, rock god Ping, or his BFF Tenaya, the girl who is as likely to hit Jasper as comfort him. His adventures aren't at all shocking, but there's an unexpected humor even to the murkiest sequences. Jasper has sex with an unattractive girl at a party and is teased mercilessly for it, even as he worries about the girl's possible pregnancy. The drug bits (of which there are many) are relatively unpretentious, even when it feels like its creator is playing at Irvine Welsh-level primitiveness. A surface read of this confessional invites comparisons to the transgressive teen drama Skins, but Brooks' work (Fences, 2009, etc.) feels richer as it explores generational angst and the blue-black damage of adolescence. An epistolary novel filled with black humor and fleeting tenderness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143121091
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 403,921
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Ben Brooks is the author of Fences, An Island of Fifty, and The Kasahara School of Nihilism. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He was born in 1992 and lives in Gloucestershire, England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Polarizing, but I personally loved it

    Grow Up is the sort of novel people refer to as "coming of age" because it's about teenagers about to graduate from high school (or finish A-levels, since they're British kids). It's also the sort of novel that gets very mixed reviews because the characters, particularly the main character, is equally charming and despicable. In other words, he's a teenager. Add to that the fact that the author is barely nineteen years old himself and has already written five novels (though he says this is his first "proper novel") and the book ends up being rather polarizing. Young readers adore his fresh and honest (and very engaging) storytelling, while professional reviewers say the book is vapid and filled with "sex and drugs and not much else," perhaps unwilling to give the author the benefit of the doubt that he has anything real to say.

    I, for one, am torn. I really did enjoy this book. The characters say and do offensive things, but I didn't find myself offended. I had to really think about why that was. And I think in the end I believe that Ben Brooks was successful in creating precisely what he set out to: an unreliable narrator.

    Jasper Wolf is a naif (in some ways like his idol, Holden Caulfield) in that he believes he is completely self aware and worldly but his own immaturity and bravado prevent him from accurately seeing the world around him. Ben Brooks has not created a world in which there are no consequences for Jasper's actions; he has created a world in which Jasper does not always see what those consequences will be, and one in which Jasper himself is not always the one who will have to pay for his own bad behaviour.

    Jasper treats some of the girls around him horribly, but the reader sees that those girls probably really are devastated by his actions, even if Jasper is mostly just interested in how it all affects him. This isn't Saturday Night Fever, where the girl forgives her rapist in the end so long as he's a little bit nice to her.

    In a lot of ways, Grow Up reminded me of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The reader sees more than the narrator does because the narrator has a fundamental flaw in his reasoning power. Only in this case it isn't autism, it's being a middle class teenaged boy.

    For my full review, please visit my blog, CozyLittleBookJournal.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2012

    I found it very interesting and I personally could not put it down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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