Book Review: Mike  

By Andrew Norriss

Published by David Fickling Books

This is a very strong idea for a young adult novel. For a few pages you think it’s going to be a boring homage to tennis and only likely to interest tennis fanatics, then you realise that it’s actually about mental health, life choices, families and it’s very uplifting.

Floyd is 15 when the novel opens and, coached by his tennis-mad but decent parents, he is well on his way to becoming an international champion. He is also interested in, and knowledgeable about, tropical and other fish. But a boy/man named Mike keeps appearing – especially at tennis matches – and it seems, that he’s invisible to everyone except Floyd. And he’s inhibiting Floyd’s game.

With help from the delightful psychologist Dr Pinner, Floyd eventually accepts that Mike is a projection of himself and, Andrew Norriss’s point is that there is a Mike in all of us guiding us when important choices have to be made – and for Floyd, awful as it is for his parents, that means that he doesn’t want to pursue a career into professional tennis.

Instead, though a series of well plotted chance encounters with real people and meetings with Mike, Floyd eventually becomes a marine biologist. There’s interesting information lightly tossed into this book about fish, business, scientific research, treasure trove and lots more. And there’s a love story to boot. It’s a clever, engaging, plausible story which spans about 15 years so Floyd (or Mike?) is grown up at the end.

Review by Susan Elkin