Vinny’s Wilderness opens with a divorced teacher returning to her home in south Belfast, where she discovers that her dearly loved, overgrown garden has been bulldozed and unceremoniously dumped in a skip outside her house. What follows are her vivid memories of the previous four months, when she tutored Denzil, a lively, personable young boy. More interested in the outdoors than engaging in the learning essential to successfully pass the ‘eleven-plus’ exams required to get him into second-level education, Denzil struggles against the constraints and expectations within his rigid family home. As he begins to emerge from his shell, playing with Vinny’s daughter in their chaotic garden, Vinny and Denzil’s mother discover a shared past, and tentatively pick up their friendship after a split during their own time working towards the eleven-plus exams. Vinny’s Wilderness is a sensitive rendering of childhood friendship, tinged with nostalgia viewed through the emotional intensity of studying for your first major exam. Reminiscent of the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, it illustrates how friendship can survive adolescence and in adulthood evolve into the support needed to change your life and become your true self.