Monday, December 7, 2020

An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

 Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Milla, has fallen in love for the first time, and her youngest, Ruby, is a nine-year-old fashionista who can out-negotiate anyone. 

But Julia’s eleven-year-old son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone. And bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.

Then, one Monday morning, Jackson follows his new friend Digby into the school toilets. What happens inside changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Boldwood Books and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I picked this book as stories with neurotypical characters interest me, especially as I have 2 children with autism. But I don’t think I was ready for how dark this story got. Jackson has an undiagnosed condition, he is different to other kids his age, he gets unsettled easily, and remembers everything from his life - he calls himself a memory magnet.

This story shows just how easily manipulated children be, especially if they are easily impressionable like children with special needs. The story delves into the life of Jackson, his mum Julia, dad Andy, and 2 sisters 9 year old Ruby and 14 year old Milla. Jackson befriends a boy from soccer who is also in his class at school, but things aren’t as they seem and it gets a bit scary. Especially when the ‘toilet incident’ happens and the police come calling. 

My heart broke for the family and poor Jackson going through this awful ordeal. And Julia, I can’t even imagine, going through something like this as a mother must be horrendous, especially when your child doesn’t understand fully what’s even happening. The shoe phone was a lovely touch and made me feel like Jackson had somewhere he could escape and talk about things. There were a few times I gasped, and other times I sat with my hand across my mouth as I read. And the ending was a shocker!

I rated this book 5 stars as I just could not put it down, but be warned there are trigger warnings in this story before you read.

Thanks again to Boldwood Books, Netgalley and as always, the author Fiona Higgins.

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