Book Club Pick: February 2015
Title: Beth & Bruno
Author: William Taylor
Series: Stand alone novel
Country: New Zealand
Publisher: Ashton Scholastic
First Published: 1992
Bruno is an adult student at Gray’s Valley High School. A former streetkid, he has returned to look after his aged, blind father on a rambling, untamed farm. Part Maori and tough – and with a reputation to match – it’s not hard for Bruno to keep his distance . . . which is just how he likes it.
Beth is city born and bred. She has come to spend her senior year at Gray’s Valley High, staying with her aunt. Self-assured and attractive, Beth could easily be a popular figure in the local teen scene – but it is apparent that something is troubling her.
They are as different as chalk and cheese – so why does fate seem to keep throwing them together?
Beth Paterson has transferred to Gray’s Valley High School from the city and is staying with her slightly eccentric aunt and high school art teacher Stella.
The novel opens with Beth at a typical high school pool party. She did not want to attend the party but Stella pressured her in the hope that she will make friends – little does Beth know Stella arranged Beth’s invite.
Not really wanting to be there Beth takes up a fellow classmate Vic’s offer for a ride home. Vic has his own motives for getting Beth alone and makes a pass at her. When she rejects his advances they struggle and he pulls the door handle off the car trapping her. A motorbike appears out of the darkness with dead wild big draped over the handle bars. A mysterious rider wearing a black balaclava has potentially saved her.
This mysterious rider is Bruno Petrie. Beth asks around about him and learns he is an adult student who returned from the city to look after his father Archie. Bruno has quite the reputation as a violent thug.
Despite frequently butting heads something keeps bringing Beth and Bruno together.
Beth has a secret past. I’m not going to spoil it but I suspect many readers may pick what it is.
The novel is written in third person. For the first few chapters until Beth and Bruno meet, Taylor alternates chapters between Beth and Bruno’s perspective.
It’s coming on 23 years since Taylor published this novel and its characters and themes are still relevant to teenagers today. If published today they only difference would probably be that the characters would all have mobile phones and be on social media.
There is a moderate amount of adult content including sexual assault, low level violence, minor coarse language and alcohol use by the teen characters.
Beth and Bruno would be suitable for junior secondary school (high school) students.
Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.