This is a great read. It had me laughing out loud, half in disbelief at the number of things that could go wrong for one person, and half because the protagonist’s uncanny combination of dry humour and bumbling determination to just keep going makes him so much like my younger brother.

As the difficulties keep coming the laughter turned into wondering smiles, these guys never say die.

By the last quarter it was evident how much Ry’s character had strengthened through his ordeals, he was making decisions and solving problems with wisdom beyond his years.

And at the same time he’d lightened up and discovered how to enjoy the simple things in life: good company, the strength of family, and the joy of living fuelled by the exciting optimism of a can-do attitude. Now he’s ready to take life head on, no more being dragged along by the ears.

It’s a contemporary story that doesn’t shy away from exposing character defects, even in adults, and it doesn’t paint any superficially rosy pictures. Be prepared for more of Spinelli’s realism than Horowitz’s fantastical adventure. But best of all, it’s the perfect technology detox for teens.

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is editor of The Good Reading Guide and manager of Portico Books,...