By Luke Palmer | Cover design by Anne Glenn
Publishing 5th October 2023 | ISBN 9781915444318

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, and quickly realises that the penalties in this game far outweigh the prizes. Can they all make it to the finish line before someone loses more than just face?

Second book by Carnegie-longlisted and Branford Boase shortlisted poet and novelist Luke Palmer.

An intensely gripping and masterly YA novel about the fates of four very different boys, as they navigate friendships and growing up in a small town.

Focuses on boyhood and male friendship, modern-day masculinity and innocence lost.


Praise for the book

Praise for Play:

•‘What an astonishing book. It’s profound, poetic, funny, heartbreaking and above all, real – every line, from the lyrical to the punchy, and every character rings with truth. Luke Palmer is up there with Melvyn Burgess, Patrick Ness and Anthony McGowan at showing us the joys, complications and fears of being a boy.’ Jo Nadin

• ‘Boys will be boys but will strive to become so much more in Luke Palmer’s wonderfully astute and truthful story. It’s the best book of young male friendship I’ve read in years. Gut-wrenching and glorious.’ Keith Gray

•  ‘With a backdrop of toxic parents and the loss of innocence, Play shows how terrifyingly easy it is to fall from the tracks. I wanted to reach into the book and save these boys, but could only sit back and watch the horror unfold’ Lisa Heathfield


Praise for Grow:
• ‘As Melvin Burgess’s Junk was to the dangers of drugs, this cautionary young adult novel is to the threat of radicalisation.’ Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times, Children’s Book of the Week
• ‘This unsettling yet compelling debut deserves a place on many bookshelves.’ Claire Hennessy, The Irish Times

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