Frankie Parsons is a worrier. He worries about the batteries in the smoke alarm, the amount of food in the house, whether he’ll have enough money for bus fare, and a whole host of other things. He wonders how everyone else in his life can be so blissfully content to live in ignorance about the sheer number of things that could go wrong. Ma is the only one who allows Frankie to give voice to his worries; of course, one of the things that worries Frankie most is Ma.
When a new girl arrives at school, Frankie’s life begins to change. Sydney isn’t like anyone he’s ever met. She’s bold, courageous, straight-forward, interesting, daring, and wholly unique. Her questions are terrifying and exhilarating. There is nothing off-limits to Sydney’s curiosities. But there is one question Frankie doesn’t want to answer; the one question he himself wants to ask, but doesn’t have the courage to put into words.
Comical and heartbreaking, The 10 p.m. Question is an exploration of family, friendship, anxiety and mental illness. De Goldi has beautifully drawn a magnificent and realistic cast of characters and given us a glimpse into their world. On the flap, De Goldi says she wanted to “write a book that explored profound personal difficulty amid the chaos of ordinary life…” and I believe she has truly hit her mark.