The Boy In The Dress is television comedian Walliams’ first book.
The story is about Dennis, a twelve-year-old soccer lover, who lives with his older brother John, and their father, who resorts to eating to cope with his divorce from the boys’ mother. Dennis finds interest in women’s fashion and comfort in his mother’s old clothing, and it is here that he discovers that he enjoys cross-dressing. He remains shy and wary of sharing this discovery with his family and friends until his father catches him with a copy of Vogue. His father is outraged, and his brother calls him “Denise.”
He meets school idol Lisa Jane, and becomes friends with her when he is given detention as a result of a misguided kick. She convinces him to dress up in a wig and dress, and when he passes unnoticed as exchange student “Denise” at a local corner store, he decides, after much contemplation, to attend school dressed as a girl. While he does a good job of convincing many schoolmates, his cover does not last. When a soccer ball passes by him he can’t resist the urge to kick the ball. His wig falls off and his worst nightmare comes true as he humiliates himself in front of the whole school. On top of everything, he is expelled from the school. Just when it seems things are going all askew, the author adds a little twist, bringing a nice closure to the story.
I came upon this book quite randomly when the red cover caught my eye. Though quite thick, the white space and short chapters made it even more appealing. It is a good book that addresses some questions such as what it means to be different, and accepting who you are. While there were some moments that the story slows, and the UK monetary terms can be a little confusing, it is a book that I am glad to have come upon and can recommend as one that may help readers to manage some of the trepidation associated with being different.