Kick by Mitch Johnson


My son is a football fanatic and a reluctant reader, so I begged for this book and I’m glad I did.

Kick is the story of Budi a twelve-year-old boy who works stitching football boots in a sweatshop in Jakarta. His life is a complicated negotiation of dangerous neighbourhoods, his own personal health issues, a gruelling job and poverty. However, his supportive family, love of football and desire to play for Real Madrid one day, keeps him going. This story champions hope, dogged optimism, and friendship.

Football is a beautiful game that I only know a small amount about, but it makes for a wonderful metaphor in this story, the importance of playing as a team, of practice, of integrity, and as one of the highest paid sports in the world it throws the living conditions of the characters into stark relief. My favourite character was Budi’s grandmother, who tells stories to guide him, but it’s hard to imagine there being a reader who doesn’t like Budi.

Kick is a beautifully woven tale with a frankly adorable protagonist, with a burning passion for football, living in a tough world. I should mention there is quite a bit of violence and suffering in the story. My heart ached on many occasions. This book is a great read to promote empathy and understanding, but best of all it’s just a great book. Skilfully written, and perfectly paced Mitch Johnston has produced a fantastic debut. I couldn’t put it down and I’ll be passing it on to my twelve year old next.