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Sofa Surfer

Sofa Surfer

Published: 7 Jan 2021

Paperback / softback, 336 pages

Recommended for age 14+

By Malcolm Duffy

Published by Head of Zeus

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When going home isn't an option. A YA novel about what it means to be homeless.

Tagged homelessness

Reviewed by Emily Weston

Sofa Surfer was a surprising read for me. Before I began reading this book, I had a very different idea in my head of what it was going to be like. I already knew it was likely to be emotional; it addresses some critical issues such as homelessness and a younger generation of sofa surfers who have nowhere to go. These issues are not frequently addressed in YA literature…but should be.

This book follows Tyler, who has moved from London to Yorkshire. He isn’t happy. After all, he’s gone from the hustle and bustle of the big city to the sleepy village he now lives in. The only place for him to spend his time is the local Lido. At least he loves swimming, and it gives him something to do!

There, he meets Spider who wants swimming lessons. To start with, Tyler is reluctant to give this strange girl what she wants, but the temptation of some extra cash wins him over. He doesn’t expect to find out she is a sofa surfer, though, which tangles him up in some unexpected troubles. He wants to help her, but his friends and family aren’t so keen on his plans. Will he be able to support her while maintaining normality?

Sofa Surfer is a valuable book which will build the empathy within the reader on an issue which we often hurry past, both in real life and within our stories. Malcolm has written an honest reflection of homelessness and sofa surfing. It felt authentic, as though it could be a genuine story of someone the reader might know. Tyler and Spider make an unlikely pair, but develop trust and understanding between each other, with other ‘normal’ teenage problems being addressed, which builds a recognition with the reader.

As expected, this brilliant book confronts your emotions while allowing you to open your understanding. You can watch Malcom Duffy introducing this title here.

I was a primary teacher for 6 years, having worked across KS2 but with a focus in Year 6 for the last 4 years. I have now moved to the position of a Transition Teacher within a secondary school, where I work in the English department and also on Primary Outreach with local schools. I am passionate about literacy and reading for both academic success and wellbeing and love recommending books to adult and children alike! I can always be found with a book!