Title: Ostrich Boys
Author: Keith Gray
ISBN: 9780375858437
Pages: 297 pages
Publisher/Date: Random House, c2008.

“Maybe that’s what we should do,” I said. “Have the kind of funeral that Ross would really want.”
And that was when it all fell into place: the lightbulb lit up.
“In Ross,” I said. I grabbed Sim’s arm. “We could give him a real funeral. A proper one.” I got hold of Kenny too. “But we do it in Ross, in Scotland.”
They looked at me like I was cracking up.
“Don’t you get it? We’ll take Ross to Ross, just like he always wanted. There’ll be no vicars, no teachers, no parents–just us, his best friends. Doing something for him he always wanted to do. A proper memorial.”
Even in the dim light I could see Sim liked the idea. He nodded, beginning to understand what I was getting at. “We could, couldn’t we?”
Kenny seemed less convinced. “But he’s dead. He was cremated.” He spoke like I was a child. “How’re we supposed to take him to Scotland when he’s in an urn?”
Sim let a slow grin slide across his face. “We steal him. Right?”
I grinned too. “Exactly.”
Kenny groaned. (27)

Three fifteen year old boys. Blake, Sim, and Kenny.
Two day trip across Europe. Ride the train from England to Scotland and back.
One urn full of their friends ashes. And one big mistake that changes their entire friendship.

The cover, the title, everything about this book is misleading in a way, because I didn’t know what to expect from it. I certainly didn’t expect this uproariously funny read about three boys on one disaster of a road trip. Things go from bad (stealing the urn of ashes in front of the dead kid’s family) to worse (loosing their money and a ticket on the first of several trains) to downright horrible (being pursued by the cops and featured on the evening news). I keep wanting to compare it to that movie Trains, Planes, and Automobiles with Steve Martin. All they want to do is reach Ross, Scotland, and they keep having obstacles thrown into their path, which they most of the time overcome in slapstick fashion.

The friends begin to suspect that there’s something more to this cross-country police chase then what’s simply them taking the urn of ashes without asking. And as they’re journey progresses, realizations come to light that maybe they weren’t such good friends to Ross towards the end of his life. They feel they know what’s best for Ross, which begs the question of how well can/do you really know someone. This is Keith Gray’s U.S. debut novel, although he’s published several noteworthy titles in the United Kingdom and I thought it was a great introduction to his work. The writing is fast-paced and never boring as the boys get into one improbable problem after another. I’d highly recommend it.

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