Book Review // Alan Cole Is Not A Coward by Eric Bell

Book Review // Alan Cole Is Not A Coward by Eric BellAlan Cole Is Not a Coward by Eric Bell
Published by HarperCollins on September 5th 2017
Rating: four-half-stars
Genres: Young Adult, Family, Siblings, LGBT, Social Themes, Bullying
Pages: 272
Buy: Hardback/Paperback
Find on Goodreads

Perfect for fans of Tim Federle and Gary Schmidt, this is a hilarious and poignant tale about the trials of middle school when you’re coming of age—and coming out.
Alan Cole can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he’s about as exceptional as a goldfish. And—scariest of all—he can’t let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him.
But when Nathan discovers Alan’s secret, his older brother announces a high-stakes round of Cole vs. Cole. Each brother must complete seven nearly impossible tasks; whoever finishes the most wins the game. If Alan doesn’t want to be outed to all of Evergreen Middle School, he’s got to become the most well-known kid in school, get his first kiss, and stand up to Dad. Alan’s determined to prove—to Nathan, to the world, to himself—that this goldfish can learn to swim.
May the best Cole win.

Alan Cole Is Not A Coward is about many things. Not being a coward (not that I ever thought Alan was a coward), standing up to people who try to make you do things you don’t want to do (or try, at least, as Alan tries to figure out how to stop his brother Nathan from making his threat come true if Alan loses their yearly CvC match) and trying to make your dad proud of you, when he’s determined to drag you down at every turn. This is actually a pretty heavy Middle-Grade book. It comes across light enough as you’re reading, but there’s some pretty heavy messages in this book.

“Before he died he told me to never let anyone tell you you don’t deserve to be who you are. The only person who can tell you that is yourself.”

I loved Alan, I loved his “friends” Madison and Zack who for ages weren’t really friends, hence the quotation marks as Alan didn’t want them to suffer his brother’s wrath. I liked the idea of the CvC match, where the two Cole brothers do things on a list and whoever does more wins, but I didn’t like what Nathan was threatening to reveal, how cruel Nathan was. It just seemed incredibly unnecessary, and it was a shame neither of their parents had any idea (their mom especially because their dad was a jerk) and did anything about it, because Nathan was a bully. Nathan was cruel. Nathan needed to be taught a freaking lesson. Alan Cole was a MC to root for, I wanted nothing more than for him to show his brother up, once and for all, and prove that a goldfish can defend himself.

“When Tyler calls out: ‘I don’t, by the way.'”

I really loved Alan Cole is Not A Coward. I didn’t agree at all with Nathan’s cruel decision to out Alan if Alan lost the contest, nor did I agree with their mother telling Alan something in this book was his fault, without telling him how wrong it was to think that, because how damaging is it to tell a twelve-year-old that? Especially what it is she tells him was his fault? Alan was pretty sensitive so he could have easily taken that to heart and let it be on his conscious for the rest of his life. You can’t tell a kid something like that. And the heinous way their dad acted? *Rages inside* There is no excuse for the way their dad acted, at all. I loved the friendship between quirky Zack, Madison and Alan so, so much, I loved how they banded together to help Alan with his list and the feeling of camaraderie between the three of them. This was such a brilliant read, I devoured it in just one sitting and I need more MCs like Alan Cole in my life, because he was a treat.


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