While I’d enjoyed Slater’s debut, ‘Smart’, the protagonist was not necessarily one that people easily warmed to. With Finlay Macintosh Slater has created a young character who has plenty to admire, without him coming across as irritating.
It’s been a couple of years since Finlay’s mum disappeared with no explanation. His stammer has got worse since her disappearance, and he is being bullied at his new school. Finlay’s dad is barely holding things together and we can see he is struggling to support Finlay as he deals with his own feelings. It would be all too easy to paint Finlay as a victim, but – as in life – there’s a lot of positives to him, and it’s a case of him starting to recognise those strengths.
Finlay, though he struggles with speaking, is actually a genius at Scrabble. He ends up involved with his school Scrabble club and, through a number of very convenient factors, ends up forming new friendships, learning about himself and even getting his happy ending (of sorts).