Marty flicked sweat out of his eyes as he hurtled down the path towards the bike compound. Where was Rick? He’d better not keep him waiting long. it was too hot to be hanging around. Marty swerved to avoid a kid with a terminal overbite and skidded to a stoop. Scanning the faces of the kids crowding the gate, he quickly backed up. The last thing he needed was some smart alec ramming his legs for fun. As he did so, he caught sight of a scuffle at the back of the compound.
Rick and Marty are sure the ice-cream man saw them, but the van takes off before they can get there. With their new friend Aaron tagging somewhat reluctantly along, they decide to play a prank. The prank is successful, and although they don’t see his reaction, they feel sure they have paid him back. But the prank is a beginning. The ice-cream man hits back. Marty is struggling to escape his over-protective mother and responds to her concerns by trying more and more dangerous stunts in his wheelchair. Rick’s father has died and his mother is struggling to cope. Aaron, the newest friend, endures constant bullying from his new step-brother and gets little support from his mother or step-father. The three boys draw together against a common, unseen, vengeful enemy.
Jenny Mounfield has constructed a complex, tightly plotted story of revenge. Each of the three boys is struggling with their own demons and their need binds them together. This is not to say that they share all their secrets. To the contrary, they all have secrets, all have something to hide. In uniting against a common enemy, they come to understand each other a little more. These are boys acting out loudly to hide their individual fears. In many ways they are all alone, even if the solitude is one that they somehow self-impose. ‘The Ice-cream Man’ is a chilling story of a prank that has far reaching consequences. Themes include loss, grief, families, friendship, ability and disability. The three main characters Marty, Rick and Aaron take turns to narrate the story, with chapters overlapping the action from the different points of view. This is a suspenseful, frightening read that is difficult to put down. Recommended for mid-secondary readers.
The Ice-cream Man, Jenny Mounfield
Ford St 2008