Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: The Boy in the Smoke

Stephen suspects his parents dislike him, and his fears are confirmed when they fail to pick him up from boarding school at the end of term. He contacts his elder sister Gina, who whisks him off to London for a self indulgent spree of spending and over-eating that reveals her own severe problems as a troubled teen. When their parents finally arrive, Gina is banished from the house, and Stephen is packed off to Eton, where he has already earned a place through his academic ability.

Some time later, the only bright spot in Stephen's life is extinguished when his sister dies from a drugs overdose, leaving him to lead an increasingly successful but depressed existence at school. At an open day in his final year Stephen tries to discuss his sister's death with his parents but they are unsympathetic and even try to blame him for the tragedy.

That removes his last trace of hope, and he goes off to the boathouse where he slings a rope over a beam and tries to hang himself. He immediately regrets it, and is surprised to find that someone is there in time to rescue him, take the noose from his neck and look after him. And so begins a series of strange events in Stephen's life.

It would be wrong to reveal more of the plot. This is a ghost story with a twist and telling too much would spoil the tale. Whether it is because Maureen Johnson's The Boy in the Smoke was written for young adults, or because of the narrative itself, is hard to say, but it is an uplifting book. It would certainly be a great recommendation for anyone who is feeling depressed.

It was released for just £1 a copy in time for World Book Day last week, or you can download it as an ebook here: https://www.hotkeybooks.com/books/detail/the-boy-in-the-smoke

It's only 86 pages, but easily worth a pound of anyone's money. 


snafu said...

Sounds like you got good value for your pound and you have found me another book to go on my must-read list.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Anne - I'd wanted to read your review .. so had kept the post .. now I've read it .. I'm off to buy the book -

86 pages I might manage! Wish I read more .. I must make a plan with the longer days .. cheers Hilary