Tale to get you laughing until your spuds pop

Title: Spud

Title: Spud

Author: John van de Ruit

Publisher: Penguin Books

Reviewer: Namhla Tshisela

John Milton is regarded by his schoolmates' standards as a late bloomer.

At 13, he is still a spud. His voice hasn't broken, his balls haven't dropped and each one is still as smooth as an egg, or more appropriately, a spud.

Under normal circumstances, this would not matter much. But it makes John's life a pain, especially when he's thrown into a dormitory with seven deranged boys - collectively known as the Crazy 8 - with an unhealthy obsession with sex and bollocks.

It also means, to the horror of his friends, singing in the choir, playing Oliver Twist in the school play, convincing them that he is not gay and surviving his first year at boarding school with his sanity and pride intact.

This formula would barely work for a B-grade movie but it makes for marvellous and hilarious reading in John van de Ruit's Spud.

The book is written in the form of a diary and chronicles Spud's life in 1990 at an elite boys' boarding school in Natal.

It's only a matter of time before Nelson Mandela is released from Robben Island and the "swart gevaar" strikes and the school elects its first black prefect.

This spells danger for the Miltons, especially for Spud's father. It also means preparing for war, brewing illegal beer with Innocent the maid and a family holiday with a senile grandmother, Wombat, in Namibia.

This road trip makes for the funniest and mostenjoyable scenes on paper.

I utterly enjoyed Spud and it is one of the few books that made me laugh out loud and read out lines to my friends and family.

But don't just take my word for it, read this engaging tale and get a copy of the sequel, aptly named Spud: The Madness Continues.