The Boy by Wytske Versteeg

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The Boy by Wytske Versteeg

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Beautifully written story of the loss of a child, accurately capturing peer group pressure, family dynamics and grief. Delicately explored, it is a beautiful and affecting read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Hope Road
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1908446501

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Kito was a withdrawn child. It was difficult for his parents, especially his mother, to reach him. Like many children who turn inwards, he struggled to make friends at school. And those he did make seemed only to use him for access to his games consoles. His dark skin also marked him out for bullying. Kito went missing after a class trip to the beach. His body was discovered when it washed up on the sand. Kito had drowned.

If I'm relating this in a matter of fact way that seems out of place to you because I am talking about the death of a child, then you'll have the flavour of this novel. Because this is how Kito's mother seems. She is a psychiatrist but she lacks empathy and this comes across from the very first page.

But Kito's mother is grieving terribly for her child. She misses Kito and it's painful. She also misses the child that provided the glue in a marriage that really doesn't work very well. As her grief grows and her marriage becomes even more stale in the wake of this devastating loss, Kito's mother obsesses over finding out exactly what happened to her son and how he came to drown.

Her search leads her to Hannah, the drama teacher at Kito's school, who has now moved to Bulgaria. Kito's mother follows her there and gradually begins to tease out the story.

It wouldn't be quite accurate to say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Boy because it is, at times, a very distressing read. But it's a tremendously worthwhile one. It's a story of peer group pressure and the horrible hierarchies that exist in secondary schools. It's a look at grief. It's a look at the way parents deceive themselves. And it made me think about how even the best-intentioned people can make terrible mistakes.

The Boy is also beautifully-written in elegant and precise prose. It's one of those books you don't rush and make it comfortable for you to take your time. And it's a very intimate look inside the human psyche. And while it deals with some upsetting themes and events, it never descends into prurience.

If The Boy appeals to you and you're looking for something else to read, then grief and loss are strong themes in the fabulous After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell. You might also appreciate Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov.

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Buy The Boy by Wytske Versteeg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy by Wytske Versteeg at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy The Boy by Wytske Versteeg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy by Wytske Versteeg at


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