I will be honest and say I have kept passing Nielson's previous novel, We're Are All Made of Molecules, in the bookshop discounting it for some bizarre reason, but I think on the back of Word Nerd I'm not going to make that mistake again. This is a great read, dealing with friendships, and the reality of not fitting in; with Ambrose Bukowski struggling to find a place for himself in his world.

I liked Ambrose, though I could see how he might manage to talk himself into trouble. I found his quirky dress sense quite cool, and liked the fact that he loved the stuff he wore, even though they might have been bought through necessity rather than choice. It's hard though, being that kid that is different, and whilst I now look at him through adult eyes, I wonder if I would have been so compassionate as a child? I'd like to think so, certainly I try to instil it in my children, but in all honesty I don't know. I do think that this is a good book to explore the sense of identity and of treating people as individuals, who may or may not always conform to the idea of 'normal'. I can see though why Ambrose struggled to find friendship in his own peer group, the fact that it got harder each time he moved obviously played a big part in this too.

The relationship he builds up with neighbour and ex-con Cosmo, is therefore really lovely to see, as is his joining Scrabble Club. Through these friendships he builds up both his self-esteem and his sense of identity in a subtle and realistic way. It was also good to see him trying to break through his mother's over-cautious and protective bubble. As a mum I totally understand where she was coming from, and as a mum of a child whose needs are different from the 'norm' I understand even more! It is sometimes hard to hand over some responsibility, after all who could possibly look after your own child better than you? It's easy to think that the whole world will fall apart if you aren't there constantly checking and approving their every move!

The subtleties of each character's interactions with Ambrose, and each other, also play an important role in the book.. They all in some way mould Ambrose into finding out who he is, and in some cases who he doesn't want to be.

Word Nerd is a terrific book for those young adults struggling to find their way through those troubled years, and also for those of us who just need to be reminded sometimes, that being different is what we all should strive to be. Remember too, that words are the key to a bright future!