[i]The Underdog[/i] by Markus ZusakI found this in our library's discarded books and decided that the author of something as good as The Book Thief must be worth having a look at in his other books.
The Underdog is just a short Young Adult Fiction book, 140 pages. Not difficult reading at all, though the main story is interrupted by the teenage boy's (he's 15) dreams. As with The Book Thief the narrative has a slightly different structure to usua. In this one he ends the first chpater with a little synopsis of what he will be writing about. "I don't really know that this story has a whole lot of things happen in it. It doesn't really...I failed in getting my old job back. Mr father gave me a chance. My elder brother Steve screwed up his ankle, insulted the hell out of me, and eventually came to realise something. My mother held a boxing exhibition in our school welfare office and went berserk one night. My sister Sarah got jilted...I met a girl and fell I love with her (but thenm I could fall in love with anything that showed an interest)...And I survived. Nothing much happened really. It was all pretty normal."
The book is really about how he survived, or more specifically, how he grew up a bit, found his identity to some degree. I suspect this is fairly much autobiographical - the story of a boy who is scruffy, dirty, ineffective, uncertain, hopeless in his own estimate, and who learns that he will get to be different.
Nice wee book. (But I don't see how people can argue The Book Thief was a children's book when it is so much more sophisticated.)