Thursday, November 07, 2019

How to Rob a Bank

Mitchell, Tom. How to Rob a Bank
November 7th 2019 by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks
ARC provided by the publisher

Fifteen year old Dylan has a girlfriend, Beth, who looks like Emma Stone. He wants to impress her for her birthday, and since her pal Henry has given her a necklace, he decides to give her the Nepalese scented candle he's ordered for his mother. The two burn it in her room, but hastily extinguish it when her mother smells it ("Why does it smell like yoga in here?") and put it in the trash basket. Bad idea. The resultant fire burns down the expensive house, and since the family has no insurance, they end up living in a flat in a council block. (In the US, we would probably say "the projects".) Feeling guilty, Dylan is inspired by the bank heist movies he watches with his unmotivated father, and plans several schemes to rob a bank himself. One is thwarted by his former teacher, and when he downloads a computer hack to control an ATM, he isn't able to insert the USB drive into a local ATM. His sister is with him, and manages to tell the bank manager a sob story about their parents being dead in order to secure her brother an internship at the bank. Since his parents have been bothering him about getting a job, this is perfect. He is given plenty of time to scope out the machine, but also has to do his job-- getting coffee for the manager, and removing pigeons and their aftermath from the bank bathroom. He feels too guilty to see much of Beth, and is determined to get the money for her before she has to move to a different school because she is living with an aunt. Will Dylan be able to pull off a successful heist and save his girlfriend?
Strengths: This nailed the teenage tendency to have what seem like great ideas at the time. Dylan's motivations are clear but so misguided! I also enjoyed that his parents were both around (but again, I worry about British parenting!), and his sister was instrumental in helping him. It's great to have a character old enough to have a job, and Dylan's problems at work are fun to read about. This was a great way to spend a cool fall Saturday morning!
Weaknesses: Very British, so there will be some US readers who are confused, especially about the "football" references.
What I really think: This was delightful, and since it is available as a prebind from Follett, I'm definitely purchasing it. We need more books about teen boys doing silly things, and this is perfect.

Ms. Yingling

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