Tribes, Catherine MacPhail

You don’t just walk into the tribe, pal. First you’ve got to pass the test!

Mireia Singleton Escofet

The premise of the book is as follows: Kevin swears he will never join a gang. Fate will inevitably force him into a situation where he finds himself in altercation between two gang and because he is a good lad he helps one of the kids in who is in need. This kid will be the one who will sponsors Kevin into the gang ‘Tribes’.

However, soon he will find out that what seemed like a friend may become a foe in the shape of Salom the leader.

Kevin soon finds himself lulled into a false sense of security under the protection and friendship of the gang. However, soon he will find out that what seemed like a friend may become a foe in the shape of Salom the leader.
Kevin’s psychological journey is immaculately portrayed by MacPhail. Kevin becomes the exponent of what it is like to become a teenager and what this newly come situation entails. Although, Kevin initially despises gangs he does cherish the sentiment of belonging and forming part of a group which a group of friends brings. Nevertheless, the fundamental problem here is that the gang is up to no good and the sacrifice and things he must do to continue being a member are wrong.

MacPhail’s novel, I find, is particularly suitable for boys and I say boys because it is often difficult to find a book that will be appealing to them in so far as in comparison to girls they tend to read less and dislike long books and end up not reading them at all. Tribes is short, fast paced, the characters are believable and one can quickly sympathise with the situation Kevin is dealing with. Furthermore, the language of the book is easy to understand and because the descriptiveness of the novel one can follow the narrative even if one does not understand every word.


[eng] Tribes Puffin / Longman 2001 / 2002 144 pages


Author’s web page with new releases and a link to her personal blog :

Author Cathy MacPhail talks about why she feels passionate about being an ambassador for Scotland’s children’s charity, CHILDREN 1ST, and the experiences of children which inspire her writing (2015).

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