100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze


Publication Date: 2 Jun. 2021
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781460759455

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    Can a list save a life? Xander Maze loves lists, and his grandmother is #1 on his list of People I Love Most in the World. But now that Nanna has stage 4 cancer, can a new list of 100 Remarkable Feats really save her?

    Particularly when his list contains difficult things like #2 Make a Friend and #3 Make a Best Friend--plus #10 Kiss a Girl (preferably Ally Collins, the girl of Xander's dreams).

    Funny, moving and with a protagonist you can't help but fall in love with, 100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze is a book about:

    1. Never accepting the unacceptable

    2. The power of lists

    3. One boy's unconditional love for his nanna

    Information

    Book Type: Senior High
    Age Group: 14 years +
    Traffic Lights: Green/Amber
    Class Novel: Yes
    Good Reads Rating: 4.5/5
    Literary Rating: 4.5/5

    Review

    Xander's beloved Nanna is in palliative care. It's the first time they've been separated since she moved in with Xander and his mum when he was 3-years-old, following the death of his father. During one of his visits, Nanna asks him to make a list of 100 remarkable feats that he wants to achieve before the end of the year. Xander is convinced that if he completes the list, Nanna will recover from her cancer and come home.

    His list contains everything from small things, like writing a thank you note, through to really big things, like making a best friend. But Nanna just can't keep the list to herself, and before Xander knows it, his list goes viral. The following day at school is worse than all the awful school days that have passed before.

    Xander struggles connecting with people, so when Lily Lim (who has also seen his list) determines they are going to be best friends, he doesn't quite know how to take it. Before too long, the other feats on his list are also changing his life. He gets a job at Wild Burrito where he is befriended by Andi, an older girl who has already graduated from his school. Much to his surprise he gets picked for the soccer team, and with the help of Andi's boyfriend, who will soon be heading to the UK to play professionally for West Ham, he even learns how to play reasonably well.

    Some of the friends he makes want to make the world a better place despite their own struggles--like Lily who helps his agoraphobic next door neighbour --while others just want to help Xavier have a good time. Along the way Xavier, Lily and others try to find an older teen called Sean, who they suspect has been living alone in the national park for the past three months. While Xavier is eventually the one who finds Sean, the reality is that Xavier's journey is far more about finding himself and learning to live a bigger life than before.

    A fabulous read with an endearing neurodiverse protagonist whose love for his Nanna, and courage to pursue his quest is inspiring. Don't be surprised if this turns up in the CBCA Awards 2022.

    Themes

    list making, bullying, neurodiversity, belonging, eating disorders, agoraphobia, intergenerational relationships, family, friendship, quest, letter writing, missing teen, soccer, guilt, bonding, grief, loss, resilience

    Content Notes

    1. Lily tells Xavier she had trouble with eating during the year before. He notices scars on her wrist, and she said he shouldn't worry has her doctors said it was a cry for help only not something she really intended to do, as she couldn't have seriously hurt herself given she used a child's razor that couldn't even peel a potato. (p19). Towards the end of the book, she is hospitalised after relapsing due to not attending her therapy (she has been pretending to go and keeping it a secret from even her closest friends). In hospital, she gets the help she needs and is gradually able to return to normal life. 2. There are a couple of silly comments made to Xavier by Lily and later by Lachlan. Eg. "the girl you want to have intimate relations with" (p51), "nice lips "¦ perfect body "¦ got real wasted at "¦ party and let Tyson feel her up "¦ he said. They kinda feel like water balloons." (p52) "did you cop a feel "¦ of her goodies. Her fun bags. Her boobies." Xavier tells him Lachlan never to ask that again. (p143). 3. Language: bitch x 1, piss off x 2, shit x 5, bloody x 2. 4. Xavier has a crush on Ally. She gives him a kiss (peck) at a party (p138). 5. Tyler's parents let them drink alcohol at his house. Xander has a sip and it makes him feel sick (p136).Ally gets drunk (p135-138). Someone brings a case of beer to a party at Xander's (p172-3). Zach and Mara make out in Nanna's room. Xander kicks them out. Zach is busted for stealing his parent's alcohol (p169). 6. Johnny, a friend of Andi's, gives Xavier a fake ID (p206). They use it to take him into a bar so he can drink a beer (p207). Skinny dipping (p210-1). 7. Nanna dies, and there is quite a sad deathbed scene.

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