REVIEWS

gay coming of age; gay teen fiction, gay fiction young adult
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5 *****

(Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

​"A SPECTACULAR COMING OF AGE TALE: The Pebble Champion by A.D. Pritchard is a spectacular coming of age tale of a young boy who, through the insurmountable love of his recently deceased mother, learns to love his estranged father while understanding the reasons for the unexplained distance in that relationship. As Christopher admits failings and questions his existence, he is surrounded by an assortment of individuals who are unconditional in their concern for one another. Chris comes to terms with his mother’s death, learns of various levels of love, and accepts his destiny in The Pebble Champion. The many intricacies of this novel make it difficult to fully summarize the importance of this powerful story. Major themes of mortality, sexual indoctrination, domestic violence, and the innocence of youth demand more than a single reading. I am enamored with the creativity of A.D. Pritchard as he weaves this story in a combination of flashbacks and narration amid the existing tale. Interesting format."

- Lisa McCombs

 

"AN EMOTIONALLY CHARGED STORY: Chris's pain and confusion is very evident in his words, thoughts and actions. I could not help but hope and pray that something would soon change - anything to lessen his pain and give him a new beginning. No 15-year-old deserves to deal with all he was dealing with. I especially loved that the author let Chris tell the story in his own words, allowing him to bring more depth to the raw emotions. The flashbacks to happier times and the dreams take the reader even deeper into the pain and emotional turmoil inside Chris's head. This is a story about loss, pain, healing, new beginnings and sexuality, as navigated by a 15-year-old boy. You might want to keep some tissues on hand for times when you decide to give in to your emotions."

- Faridah Nassozi

 

"WOW. THIS IS A STUNNER OF A BOOK: The Pebble Champion is a grand and glorious debut offering that had me smiling as I read and rueing the inevitable end of the story. I loved getting to know Marmaduke, Chris’s iconic and perceptive dad, and vicariously enjoyed every moment Chris spends out at the shore, including those suspense-filled moments as he competes in the Pebble Championships. Pritchard gets the loneliness Chris feels being gay and apart from the pairing off of his peers at school. He remembers the sting of rejection from his childhood friend after an innocent attempt to connect and fears similar rejections at his new school. Pritchard captures the added stresses and feelings of alienation that gay youths encounter in addition to those that accompany coming of age. The Pebble Champion is lyrical and beautifully written; Pritchard built a world that I just didn’t want to leave -- not for one moment. His characters fairly leap from the page and involve you in their lives, and it’s a grand thing to experience. Easily the best novel I’ve read in some time, The Pebble Champion is most highly recommended."

- Jack Magnus

"BEAUTIFULLY AND SENSITIVELY WRITTEN:  I very much enjoyed reading it. Author A.D. Pritchard really gets inside the minds and emotional states of his characters and conveys this to his readers perceptively and brilliantly. With believable characters, this is a well-structured story with lots of depth and pace, and I found it a page-turner from start to finish. I especially like the method of using flashbacks to very gradually reveal Chris’s past and the build up to the tragic accident. This is more than a story of one boy dealing with profound loss and grief; it is also very much about growing up/coming of age, finding who you really are, your talents, and allowing yourself to be that person. I feel the author captures Chris's inner world perfectly and with empathy - his anger, heartfelt guilt and despair, and fear of further losses.

The imagined “pebble hopping championships” mirror Chris’s real life growing ability to let go of the past as he slowly builds the emotional skills to begin to do this. Chris grows through his pain and eventually realizes that he must also be true to himself to be happy. I liked his friend Evelyn’s gift of an acorn and wise words that no matter how much it may wish to be an apple tree, “it will always be an acorn” (oak). So The Pebble Champion is a story about grief and guilt, empathy and self-compassion/acceptance. As such I’d especially recommend it to teenagers, particularly those struggling with loss, personal identity or other growing up issues. An author and book you'll be glad you discovered."

- Hilary Hawkes

 

"CAPTIVATING: An incredible read. I couldn't put it down. It made me laugh, cry quite a few times, reflect on my own personal relationships and wonder at the strength and compassion to be found in human beings. This is a book all young adults should read. It should be recommended reading at GCSE."

- S Malcolm

 

"BEAUTIFUL AND EMOTIONAL. A GREAT READ: I really enjoyed this beautiful book. It did not take me long to read because the language is so well-written that I just kept going and going! It was a pleasure to read a novel centred around an intelligent, eloquent, sensitive and honest teenage protagonist - and the issues and feelings explored in this book are perfectly relevant for adult readers too, because at the end of the day it is a thoroughly human story (I felt that though the main character is teenaged, this is not necessarily just a 'teenage book'). I haven't read a book that has made me have an emotional reaction, in the way this one did, for a very long time. Bravo to the author."

- Sarah Ford

 

"POIGNANT: For anyone ( young or old ) who has ever lost a parent, had their heart broken, or struggled to come to terms with who they are; this book is for you. Poignant, moving, strong and very very readable, ‘The Pebble Champion’ is one of those human stories which will stay with you long after you've turned the final page. Its a page turner, a tear jerk-er and a smile maker :-) . Like all good novels, it deserves to be read and treasured."

- Miss Frances Waller

 

"A TRULY CHAMPION OF BOOKS: As an experienced librarian, I have come across literally hundreds of books, but The Pebble Champion was a book I simply struggled to put down and I just looked forward coming back to it before bedtime. From the very first page, you feel transported inside of the mind of this young person going through drastic changes in his world while he experiences changes in his own persona...The narrative is simply captivating with a mixture of perfectly chosen words and a magnificent easiness in the flow of the story. I totally loved it and would recommend it to anyone!"

-Vanessa Bandini

 

"A WARM, RICH READ: This beautifully written coming of age and coming out tale has an intensity and emotional resonance which meant that I carried it in my mind throughout the day and looked forward to returning to Chris and his struggles to come to terms with seismic changes in his life. Although the book is easy to read in a couple of settings, the portrayal of people and place is vivid and lasting. Central characters like Chris himself, Marmaduke his dad and Thane, his self-appointed new best friend are entirely convincing but characters with smaller roles to play like Auntie Wendy and Evelyn have a depth and credibility that makes them jump from the page. This is a warm, rich read which I thoroughly enjoyed and strongly recommend."

- Jane Kilpatrick

 

"ENDEARING NOVEL; ESPECIALLY GOOD READ FOR TEENS: This was a lovely story and would be a very helpful read for any teens (or adults) struggling with a major life event, death of a loved one, or sexual identity. It was well-written, keeps the reader's interest, and successfully creates a personal interest in the characters."

-Amazon.com

​"A RAY OF HOPE: Heart-warming and captivating, this beautifully written book will capture your emotions and immerse you into a touching story of grief, love, and hope.

Chris, the main character, is so easy to relate with as many of us have experienced grief and loss at some point in our lives. His story is very uplifting, especially for those who are finding the courage to let go of their sad past and move on to the next chapter of their lives.

This story reassures the readers that it is perfectly okay not to be okay. It touches on the deeper meaning of many human emotions and how each can ripple and affect your course of action. I love how the character uses self-introspection to resolve his dilemmas and battle his personal demons. His story is like a ray of hope, and quite a few times it made me reflect on my personal experiences and relationships as well."

-Amazon.com

​"BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN EXPLORATION INTO SELF-AWARENESS: This book surprised me, and in a very good way. This is not my usual genre, but I saw it was a Readers' Favorite winner and the title and concept sounded good, plus it was available on Kindle Unlimited, so I thought I would give it a try.

First, this author can write! I was drawn into the story by the great writing and then became immersed in the story itself. I became invested in the characters, especially the protagonist, Chris, who was dealing with grief and displacement. But all of the characters were interesting and complex, without being overwrought. Each had a purpose in the story, and the backstories of the supporting characters dovetailed with Chris's need to sort out what he was feeling, and why.

There was humor that made me laugh out loud, and there were many poignant moments that made me think. The author infused such honesty in Chris's self-reflection and introspection, and his character arc, using the pebble-throwing contest in which the number of "skips" equivocated growth in the character's confidence and comprehension, was masterfully done.

-Rebecca Warner, award-winning author, Amazon.com

"BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN BOOK: The Pebble Champion by A.D. Pritchard is a great coming of age story that highlights the challenges and changes a teenager goes through as he accepts who he really is. The main character Chris, has recently lost his mother, and along with that he goes to live with his estranged father. There are plenty of important themes that populate this story from mortality to sexual orientation. Each of these are handled with sensitivity and care. The words are wrought with meaning and a unique ability to understand not only the vagaries of youth, but when that is combined with being gay, this novel graduates into laudable territory. The writing is lyrical and quite beautiful, scenes are lovingly created, pulling you in, getting you to understand the color and depth of the characters, each one with their own nuances and quirky ways. You will find strength and compassion within these pages. A must read, and highly recommend."

-Amazon.com

"A RADIANTLY IMPRESSIVE NOVEL!: British author A.D. Pritchard is a poet and playwright as well as novelist and author of educational materials. His works, both in poetry/plays and this novel, have been lauded by multiple awards. Originally published in 2013, THE PEBBLE CHAMPION won attention as an important LGBTQ novel and now that it is available in the Kindle format, it doubtless will become further recognized as an important contribution to literature, in both the gay sector and the general population.

Gentle, sensitive, intelligent and extraordinarily well written, THE PEBBLE CHAMPION at last offers a role model for young gay youths to emulate. This author is one of the finest sculptors of the human spirit writing today. Very highly recommended."

- Grady Harp, Amazon Top 100 Reviewer

 

4 ****

 

"GRIPPING: I was gripped throughout by this beautifully written coming-of-age story, which accurately conveys the anxieties of being a teenager through clever plotting and very realistic dialogue. The setting is portrayed with skilful imagery and the characterisation of the protagonist is strong; I cared about Chris's fate from the first page. I strongly recommend this book to readers of all ages from 12 upwards."

-Anna L L Jeffrey

 

 

"A BRILLIANT READ: I wasn't sure what to expect when I started to read The Pebble Champion, but it certainly met every expectation I may have had. While reading this book, I smiled, I cried and I wanted to spend more time with the characters in the book. I was disappointed when I turned the page & realised it was the end. I was left wanting to know what happens next. Hopefully I will get to find out!"

- Varina Earl

 

 

"WELL WORTH READING. A good coming of age tale, told with sensitivity and without the lurid sexual scenes so depressingly common for this genre."

- Coffee Lover

 

 

"CAPTIVATING: There are many books written that hold your interest as you read them, but not many captivate you like The Pebble Champion. I held my breath, I cried, I laughed out loud, and fell deeply in love with Alan's characters. I have read this book more than once and I shall always wish there was more. The Pebble Champion is a marvelous read. Fall in love with Alan Pritchards writings. This book will hold you tight until the end."

- Katee Parker

 

"A great read!"

- Leroy

 

Amazon.com

 

 

"WOW! It is not often that I read a novel by an author I had never read before and sit up and say “WOW”! But this beautifully written coming-of-age story that made me do just that. I was pulled in on the first sentence and then did not stop reading until I finished the book and closed the covers. Chris Elliot is a character that I will not likely forget. His story of self-acceptance and navigating the world is beautifully written."

ReviewsbyAmosLassen.com

 

 

"A WONDERFUL STORY: The story of finding first love is never going to be an easy one. Add in the loss of what was essentially your only parent and you will be understandably upset and confused. The Pebble Champion is such a wonderful story of a 15 year old boy, you want to cry with, you want to laugh with and you want to feel with... an entertaining narrative that you can’t put down."

​Greedybugbookreviews.com

Advancing Backwards by A.D.Pritchard

5 *****

 

"BRILLIANT POEMS

Window Spit is a collection of forty-one brilliant poems by Alan David Pritchard. Arranged in two sections, Looking Out and Looking In, the first deals with a broad range of contemporary subjects which will be familiar to most of us. The poem ‘Window Spit’, along with ‘Concentration Ban’, ‘Reduced to This’ and ‘Distance’ observe our obsessive use of smart phones and social media, our pathetic attention span and incessant search for instant gratification. Pritchard goes on to comment on the mess we have created in the Middle East and the resulting wave of suicide bombers; our shock and distress when we experience terrorism close to home, while terrible deeds are inflicted on innocents around the world, and in response, our media presents us with daily drivel about the lives of vacuous celebrities. The later poems in this section seem to demonstrate the poet’s loss of hope and optimism, with ‘Crisis’ highlighting his despair of being able to help and ‘Dark Matter’, along with ‘Supermarket CCTV’ and ‘Strangers’ bringing this first part to a somewhat stark close.

The second section, Looking In, is more introspective. Here, Pritchard talks about his own feelings and viewpoints. ‘I Need to Know’ is a brilliant piece of verse and ‘The Letting Go’ is a cleverly succinct observation on the creative process. ‘Impotent’ has some memorable lines; ‘unwanted smells that stain the walls like regret’ lingers in the memory, and ‘Shark’ is a scary vision of one man’s struggle.

I have to admit that Window Spit is my sort of poetry; direct, unflinching, in your face, but most of all, honest. The language is down-to-earth and if you are offended by the occasional swear word I would suggest you skip the poem 'Shut The Fuck Up.' Alan David Pritchard has avoided abstract imagery and oblique metaphors, presenting us with an accessible, thought-provoking, hard-hitting collection of which he can be justifiably proud. I encourage you to read Window Spit - there are some sparkling gems in there and you will not be disappointed."

Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite

"THOUGHT PROVOKING: Poet Alan David Pritchard offers readers a glimpse into the world as he sees it in Window Spit. Divided into two sections, “Looking Out” and “Looking In,” Pritchard’s poems provide interesting commentary. He begins with thoughts on such things as social media and its effect on the world. Thus readers view how people use Facebook to provide nonstop commentary on their views while taking offense at the views of others; how folks prefer scandals over art; the oddity of watching our fellow man “participate” in worldly ventures such as visiting museums while at the same time they sit watching their phones and hiding behind their screens; and more. This section shares thoughts on world terror events (in works including “Just Sayin’” and “Selective Bleeding”), ingratitude and cultural differences (in “Crisis”), and the mysteries of coincidence (in “Supermarket CCTV”), among others. Perhaps my favorite is Pritchard’s suggestion of what God might say today if He asked mankind for help, as people are too afraid to get their hands dirty or may be simply uncaring about the problems of others (in “Strangers”). Moving on, in the “Looking In” portion, poet Pritchard shares internal thoughts about such things as being a poet (in “I Need to Know”), and solitude (in “Party”), and more.

When I read poetry, I’m looking for interesting word pictures and thought-provoking phrasing. I prefer insight into circumstances that challenge my way of looking at the world. I prefer to read pieces that speak to me, rather than those that come across as mere combinations of colorful words. Alan David Pritchard delivered the kind of poetry I enjoy reading in Window Spit. I found myself readily highlighting phrases (such as, “They go to an art gallery to stare at their phones,” “I cannot touch you unless you’re behind a screen,” “It would have been way less complicated to have stayed at home. But who, then, would have witnessed my overwhelming desire to be ignored?” and “the aftershock of a throwaway comment; the rift of an unhealable scar”). If you are looking for a thought-provoking book of poetry for your coffee table or desktop, something that will prompt meaningful conversation with others, pick up a copy of Window Spit."

Patricia Reding

"TRULY PROVOCATIVE: Beginning with the poem entitled Window Spit, writer Alan David Pritchard presents a varied array of works in his book of poetry with the same title. There are two sections of poems – the first is Looking Out and the second one is Looking In. The Window Spit poem describes the writer’s reaction to a friend’s offensive post on Facebook; he will send out a tweet later in the day in response. Another contemporary topic that is explored is the various ways people relate to each other in the world of electronics – whether it be by concentrating on their cellphones when together, the use of text messages, or surveillance videos in the supermarket. The presence of bombings and other dangers are also examined. The Looking In section is written from the introspective, deeper point of view of the poet himself.

Writer Alan David Pritchard presents refreshing, and thought-provoking, poems in Window Spit. These works are an examination of today’s world. He utilizes known images, identifying the incongruous aspects within our experiences. Within a few lines, he talks about finding two yolks within an egg – and the fact that two children in Afghanistan were shot in the face. His poetry presents one juxtaposition after another, forcing the reader to think beyond the mechanical way we live every day of our so-called modern lives. This book is striking in its honest observations and in its sophisticated simplicity. This is a book the reader will not forget, as the poetry is truly provocative and captivating!"

 

Deborah Lloyd

 

4 ****

"INVIGORATING, CHALLENGING, REWARDING

In Window Spit, poet Alan David Pritchard expresses how reflections through an imagined window can reveal the way a poet sees the world outside, and the way he sees himself.

Pritchard is an author, educator, and poet who has chosen in Window Spit to depict himself as both observer and the observed. Part I of the collection – “Looking Out” – details in verse his view of humanity through a hypothetical glass. He warns, “Beware the poet who spits in your eye.”

In several poems, Pritchard laments that people choose to communicate with unseen others on their wifi devices even while in someone’s personal company:

I cannot touch you
unless you’re behind
a screen.

As regards smoking cigarettes, a disillusioned date poses the questions, “Do you have to? Really?” In “Just Sayin'” the author notes some unpleasant truths about conflicts in the Middle East; before 9-1-1, for a macabre example, he says there were no suicide bombers—yet governments continue to wage war in the name of “my freedom.” Part II concludes by asking what “the poet, and the painter too” can do when “the wells of empathy have run dry.”

Part II, “Looking In,” is the poet’s view of his feelings and fantasies, and those of others. He sardonically disclaims his status as a “real poet” – perhaps he merely has “OCD, is obsessed by words. He depicts the process of creativity, in which, like a fussy parent, he wants to dress up words instead of letting them run “barefoot and free.” He contemplates the aloneness of the creative personality, depicting himself as a brooding character standing in the corner, exuding contempt for those who intrude on his chosen self-involvement. He deftly describes “The Sociopath,” who would rather talk to himself than engage in dialog with another person. In an ironic vein, he attacks someone overwrought after a minor office spat while there are people terrified by drones and bombs and surrounded by death.

In the end, his musings lead to the conclusion that the poet needs to “Put Down” his words and pay attention to the ills of the world around him. Pritchard presents himself as an intense personality with certain noble concerns – alienation and war, especially in the Middle East – that he feels must be expressed and understood through poetry. One poem creates a metaphorical scenario involving victims of conflict trying to move into his home with him, bringing all their family needs and cultural restrictions, expressing his wish to help in the worldwide refugee crisis. Yet, paradoxically, in another poem he berates himself, as a creative artist, for his introversion, and his withdrawal from the real world of social connection.

His work is at its best when expressed in free form; some poems in the collection strain the rigid restrictions of rhythm and rhyme. Though his surveillance, in Part I, of current disturbing issues is powerfully critical and at times even sorrowful, the second half of the collection emerges as the more potent, with sage and, at times, surprising observations about human nature that seem to be Pritchard’s most stable ground.

In total, Window Spit is an invigorating collection covering a wide range of moods and themes that is at once challenging and rewarding."

Barbara Scott, Self-Publishing Review

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