Book Review: Only On The Weekends By Dean Atta
‘Only On The Weekends’ is Dean Atta’s second novel in verse, which was released in 2022. The story follows Mackintosh Fadayomi, a fifteen-year-old boy navigating his first relationship, except Karim doesn’t think he can come out yet, and Mack’s father has to move the family to Glasgow for a few months for his upcoming film, starring Finn, a proud LGBT activist, who has also caught Mack’s eye. What’s a boy to do?
This novel follows Mack’s inner monologue and his experiences through his eyes, as he makes new friends, encounters racism and homophobia, explores his identity, and falls in love.
It was a captivating, personal, coming-of-age story, and a huge breath of fresh air. Atta is able to show so much of Mack’s personality through his presentation of each individual piece of verse. It has impeccable rhythm and reads as it ought to be spoken like you’re living in Mack’s head. Extraneous detail is omitted, because why would he pay attention to what he regards as miscellaneous? This also means you can tell what makes Mack’s soul shine. Atta has a way with words, conjuring up vibrant images of London and Glasgow and the friends that Mack makes along the way.
I loved the feeling of closeness that came from the verse in this novel, how the tempo of each poem varies depending on the circumstances from which the piece was written, you see how Mack observes and takes in scenery and people, and consumes artwork, particularly his friend Cleo’s sketchbook, and late mother’s record collection.
His budding feelings bloom within the line breaks, and you encounter real-world issues that have far more nuance in them than heterosexual coming-of-age stories of a similar nature may, as there is the added stigma of not only who the characters love, but their respective genders, and how race, class, and religion may cause friction that limits who and how they choose to pursue their relationships. But, what I loved about this book, was that although Mack struggles throughout the book, his ending is happy, he gets what he wants, and although not everyone is happy with the outcome of events, the way they fall into place makes sense, consequences coming in ripples and waves.
The story is vulnerable and emotive, you resonate with Mack, wanting what he wants, or what he may yearn for later. He is the sort of character you want to steer in the right direction, and tell him that everything will be alright. He is a compelling, relatable protagonist and I loved being privy to what went on in his mind, I look forward to more novels in verse from Atta in the future.