Tom Fray is desperate to put on a rucksack and live a life of adventure and freedom. To do so, he returns home – to a semi-detached house stuck in the middle of cul-de-sac – to earn some money.
Tom finds all the people he left behind living lives he doesn’t want for himself. His parents are trapped on life’s treadmill and his fifteen-year-old brother is causing them problems. Tom’s ex-girlfriend is seeing someone else, but would rather be with him.
And then there’s Kate, a married neighbour, who Tom shares a connection with. When the two start an affair, Tom’s simple plan to escape becomes a lot more complicated.
Suburb: Mr Frankowski’s Thoughts
In many respects, life is like a long walk through a forest. We either choose the beaten path and follow all the signposts or swerve into the wild, led by the glimpse of light and a sliver of blue guiding us to what we hope will be our very own happy ending to an exciting adventure. Whichever path we choose, we cannot be sure we’ll ever reach the destination we have in mind setting off.
Steven Kedie’s novel, Suburb, is a thought-provoking, extremely relatable coming of age story that is both deliciously uncomplicated and satisfyingly complex at the same time. Kedie is candid and open about the internal dialogue of a young man who finds himself caught out on the unavoidable yet petrifying transition from adolescence to adulthood. The author openly talks about the growing pains we go through as we embark on the journey towards the rest of our life. A journey for which no amount of studying, conversations with parents, mates and peers, music albums and YouTube videos can ever prepare us. In this gripping novel, Steven Kedie methodically outlines the thought process of every young man who ever found himself in this strange limbo of not being a fully grown man but not being a spotty, gangly teenager anymore either.
You see, my Faithful Reader, I’ve been there myself, and perhaps this is why I found Suburb to be such a compelling read. Even the central motif of the novel played a significant part in my personal journey to self-discovery. A journey, let me hasten to add, I still am on. And I will challenge every man out there who tells me they know themselves, or they’ve got it all worked out. This is one of the reasons Suburb is such a powerful story. It startles you to think about your own life. Where you currently are, where you came from, what’s next on your travels. As we watch Tom getting excited about the prospect of travelling around the world, we cannot but help but take stock of our own lived experience and put it against the harsh backdrop of everyday reality. The clichés mentioned in the book are as subjective as the intrinsic need for standing out and achieving something. The novel reminds us that everyone has different goals and dreams and there is no right or wrong way to feel about who we are and what we want to achieve. Kedie reminds us that there’s no singular path to where we want to be, but also, nothing is a given and we must be prepared to change the direction of travel, especially when that decision is made for us.
Coming of age doesn’t come with a manual. Becoming an adult is riddled with bad decisions sprinkled with good times, and it’s never about ambivalence. Every decision, every experience, every conversation is a building block for here and now. In a world where we race ahead, it’s essential to stop, look around and take a breather. Perversely, pressing on is easier than standing still, but growth happens, even in stillness.
Steven Kedie is the author of two novels, Suburb and Running and Jumping, and is a co-founder of the music website Eight Albums.
Born, raised, and still living in Manchester, Steven has worked on supermarket checkouts, at Granada Television (a job he quit to go backpacking around Europe with his then girlfriend, now wife) and in the financial sector for a major bank. He has spent time in all jobs daydreaming about characters and plot twists in future stories.
As well as writing fiction, Steven has a ongoing personal project, Scenes from the Beautiful Game, where he tries to document his love of football through writing. Extracts of this project, along with other, non-football related writing, can be found in the In Other Words section of this site.
Steven lives in suburbia with his wife and their two sons. His spare time is spent running, reading and trying to complete television. All of which get in the way of his football watching habit.