We always want what we don’t have, and for fourteen-year-old Jack Sprigley, this is no exception. But while most of us might desire something material, like the latest gadget or the coolest new outfit, Jack wants nothing more than for his ‘balls to drop’, his voice to deepen and his pubic hairs to grow. Being the only boy in Year Eight who hasn’t yet hit puberty, Jack believes that a growth spurt is all that he needs to feel as though he belongs amongst his peers. With that in mind, Jack decides that while he can’t physically make his body grow, he can fake that it has. It seems especially more important that Jack begins his fake ‘transformation’ as soon as possible, when he realises that he hasn’t seen his friends at all over the entire school holiday break. Could his friends have already ditched him over his undesirable and unmanly-looking pre-pubescent body? When Jack finds out the truth- that some of his friends are now involved in relationships with the opposite sex-he realises that now, more than ever, he has to lose his child-like image if he wants to fit in.
To make matters even more complicated, Jack’s past is about to come back and haunt him. Two years ago, he competed in a reality television program called Bigwigs, where a select group of school children were chosen to go into real-life workplaces to do adult jobs. Although he didn’t win, the ensuing prize money and fame set Jack apart from his classmates, and made it difficult for him to find friends who liked him for who he was, not what he was famous for. With the new season of the show about to begin, a reunion episode of the original cast is planned, which means that Jack is once again about to be thrust into the spotlight. But this is the last thing that he wants- especially when it is obvious that he has not changed physically since he was last seen on TV. It’s bad enough that his classmates know he still looks the same, but he doesn’t want the entire country to realise it too!
With filming about to begin, Jack has to try and convince his friends, his family, his school community and the television viewers that he has hit puberty and is no longer the wimpy little kid that they once knew. He wants them to think he is a man, who enjoys manly pursuits, and coming back to school after the holidays, this seems like the perfect time to prove it. But some things are easier said than done…
This is an entertaining (and sometimes painfully awkward) take on a boy’s need to fit in with his schoolmates. Jack is a likeable character, and although he seems to lose his way at times (favouring fame over family), his kooky circle of friends are able to sort him out and put him back on track. Schoolyard rivalry, out-of-his-league crushes, embarrassing teachers and an intense desire to sprout pubic hair all culminate in an enjoyable and somewhat naughty tale that most teenage boys will be happy to read.