The Madonna of Bolton takes you on a journey with our main character Charlie Matthews. Charlie falls in love when for his birthday he’s given a 7″ single of Madonna’s Lucky Star track. From here you’ll get to go on a ride with Charlie as he’s living his life, struggling with his sexuality, wanting to be ‘normal’, the approval of his parents, aspiring to be a writer, finding love. Madonna is the soundtrack, every chapter dedicated to one of her songs that is like a thread running through his life.

I read this book with a smile on my face throughout, I could relate to so much of it. There are so many situations being a Madonna fan you have experienced yourself. Performing one of her tracks in front of the entire school (even though people laugh at you), going into town and saving up cash to buy her new single, visiting her concert for the very first time. To read ‘The Madonna of Bolton’ is a feast of recognition, you can’t help but smile as you think back to your own experiences growing up (with or without Madonna). Don’t get me wrong though, the main subject of the book is not Madonna but more so the soundtrack to Charlie’s life.

It is a very well written and enjoyable book for all to read. It’s fun, it’s sad, it’s hilarious, it’s heartbreaking and completely bonkers. I adored everything about this novel and find it an absolute must-read. For young people struggling growing up, finding out who they are, this book might just be the boost they need to find the confidence and answers to their questions. Charlie Matthews is an adorable character, one you fall easily in love with and to whom you can relate. Matt Cain’s third novel is such a rollercoaster, it grabs you (by the balls…or pussy) and doesn’t let go until the triumphant ending.

Can’t wait to read it to my son when he grows up! Personally I’d very much like to try a Pernod now.

Five stars, highly recommended!

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review by Kimberly van Pinxteren