Penny Thomas, Publisher at award-winning children’s and YA publisher Firefly Press, has acquired world rights in Young Adult novel PLAY by Carnegie-longlisted and Branford Boase shortlisted poet and novelist Luke Palmer, from Jane Finnigan at Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency. 

An intensely gripping and masterly YA novel about the fates of four boys, as they navigate friendships and growing up in small town England. Where Palmer’s debut novel Grow (Firefly Press, 2021) explored far-right radicalisation, PLAY looks at adolescent male friendships and modern-day masculinity through the lens of four very different boys and the ‘games’ they play.

Four boys grow up together at school, itching to get out of their small town. They play games, scoring points from each other, anything to pass the time until they’re free. Matthew slips into his imagination, Luc pushes his body to the limit, and Johnny … well, who knows what Johnny’s up to.

But when Mark starts running errands for his older brother’s mysterious associate, he thinks he’s found the best game of all. There’s money in his pocket and his friends have started looking at him differently. 

Then Mark breaks a rule. He quickly realises that the penalties in this game far outweigh the prizes on offer. And now he really is trapped. Will Mark find a way out before someone loses more than just face?

‘PLAY is a confident and deeply impressive second novel from an outstanding writer, ’ said editor Penny Thomas. ‘Luke takes us deep into the ‘games’ of his characters as they map out more or less dangerous routes through their secondary school days, in what is a fine exploration of modern-day masculinity.’

Luke Palmer said: ‘I’m delighted to once again be working with Penny and the team at Firefly to bring Play into the world. It’s a novel about boyhood and male friendship that’s really important to me and it’s a privilege to find people who are as excited about it as I am. I’m staggered by the reception that Grow received, recognised by the YOTO Carnegie, Branford Boase and UKLA Awards, and hope that readers might like this one, too.’

The title is slated for publication in October 2023.

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