Across the Pond
Author Barry Eva
Reviewed by Fran Lewis
Languages are really interesting many have different ways of saying the same thing. When Fred’s parents win a trip to Australia he is totally put out. Wanting to join them on their short holiday he is torn between going to stay with their friends in America or his grandmother in Scotland. Which would you choose? Well, Fred opted for America but with one catch. Part of his trip would be to learn and record new words, expressions and thoughts that differ from those in England where he lives. How cool is that! Well maybe not to a fourteen year old who is going to a new country, as they say across the pond, for a vacation, but certainly to this reviewer who found this quite interesting and humorous. Very few people think about the fact that different dialects, languages and expressions mean the same thing and can often be misunderstood. Well, take this one for example: Fred alights from the plane joins meets his parent’s friends and offers to put his luggage in the boot of the car. Would you realize that means Trunk here in America? What about other expressions like chips which in England stands for crisps? But there is much more to this story besides the project that could land Fred a new Xbox.
Getting off the plane after being pushed and shoved he meets Phil and Julie and their daughter Brittany or Brit as she wants to be called. Immediately taken with this beautiful young girl they become fast friends. But, not everyone is understanding or welcoming to our British visitor. Meeting Brit’s friends was great at the mall but on the way out he encounters so boys who decide to give him the wrong kind of American welcome letting him know that he was not welcome in their part of town. But, Fred stands up for himself and will learn many other lessons before the entire story is told.
Right from the start author Barry Eva brings to light many important issues teens, adults and even small children face today. Fitting in with people that come from other places, understanding their customs and dealing with boys/girls that are bullies and mean. Fred did not want to come to America and fitting in with Brit and her friends was important to him. Teen relationships are fragile and often can leave permanent scars not only young girls but boys too. As Brit confides in Fred the truth behind why Steve Harris one of the bullies they encountered at the outing at the mall was rude to her, the author shines a bright light on Fred as a true friend but casts a dark shadow on the American boys and their rudeness. Some just follow suit and are afraid of what their ringleader might do if they do not act a certain way and others think they are big and cool if they overstep many moral boundaries. When Fred learns the truth behind Steve’s behavior is determined to even the score coming to Brit’s aid as her own Knight in Shining Armor or Sir Lancelot every girls dream guy. But, there is so much more that will happen before our young British friend returns to England and many more lessons to be learned.
One trip to the mall, one encounter with her friend Angel and a huge misunderstanding arises as Brit thinks she’s been betrayed by Fred and Angel is the reason. After hashing it out girl style, Brit finally simmers down and listens to her friend’s explanation and realizes the meaning of loyalty, friendship and honestly in both Fred and Angel
As Angel and Brit discuss their differences and many other secrets come out the author brings to light other issues kids face growing up not just in America but England too. But, Fred is a true gentleman and so rare you just want to clone him and have him teach other young boys the true meaning of friendship and how a young man should treat a young lady that he cares for.
Squaring it away with her mother and father there next journey is to Shea Stadium and a Met game where Fred catches a ball worth quite a bit to other fans and the need for Julie and Phil, Brit’s parents to help him make a quick getaway. Baseball is a really great pastime but catching a ball can be dangerous to the one who gets it as it seems.
But, the story is far from over and the author brings many other issues to a head as Steve and Fred will face off and the rest you will have to read for yourself. Fred is really clever and what he does to teach Steve and his aunt a lesson at the barbeque party for Brit’s family and friends to meet him is hysterical and so clever that you might not want to drink anything pink for a very long time.
But, sometimes things and disagreements are settled in the typical teenage way. Fred stood up for not only Brit but for all girls. When Steve and Fred’s issues were dealt with and the adults took over from there, Steve would learn a lesson he would never forget. But, the ending of this book will not only endear you to Fred but make you a total baseball fan too. What happens with the ball he caught will surprise you? What deal does he make that most kids would not? What other surprises are in store for not only Fred but Brit too? What is in the stars or future for them after he returns to England? A young man came across the pond only to return a lot wiser, smarter and with an increased vocabulary bridging the language barrier between countries and much more.
One group of teens from America who taught Fred that not everyone is the same and that there is loyalty in true friendship and honesty does pay off. This is one book that every teen, adult and guidance counselor should read. This is great for discussion groups, peer mediation groups and police explorer groups working with difficult teens. Everyone should have a Knight in Shining Armor.
Author Barry Eva takes the reader on a one-week vacation along with Fred to a place that most of us call home and reeducates the reader, the characters and many adults on old-fashioned chivalry, kindness and trust. Well written, fast paced and so engaging I read the book in one hour and reread it again after reading the heartfelt ending.
I truly hope that our creative and talented author will write the next chapter for both Fred and Brit.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
I never give stars when a book deserves five: I give this book FIVE GOLD BASEBALLS: Read it to find out why!