Micka by Frances Kay

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Micka by Frances Kay

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A dark, challenging read. Well written, but not one for those of a sensitive disposition.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 978-0330513821

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Micka and Laurie are two ten year old boys. They're in the same class at school and are friends, of a sort. They both have vivid imaginations, and Laurie's plans involve finding a magical bone and using it for murder. Micka lives with his mum (who can't read and is often drunk) and his two older brothers who get into fights, are involved in crime, and who abuse Micka physically and sexually. Laurie lives with his parents, until they suddenly break up, and he is left with his mum who seems to be having a breakdown. The book is told from the point of view of the two boys, and so as we see how their own lives are falling apart, sympathising with them, we also read with horror their own descent into violence.

Each boy is written in a different font, which is a good idea to help distinguish who is 'talking' at any given moment. However, I felt the fonts weren't quite distinctive enough to differentiate significantly, and I was still searching for the clue in each paragraph that would reveal which of the boys was speaking. Once you figure out who is who, however, the way they speak is really well written. Micka has a more direct, simplistic style which aligns with his background, and Laurie is the more verbal, intelligent boy. Both of them do sound convincingly like little boys though, and I think it's this contrast, between the young, naive and initially innocent voices of the two of them with the violence they both experience or enact, that creates such a turmoil of feeling within the reader, wanting to both sympathise with them for their situations and also being disgusted by what is happening.

This isn't a book for the faint hearted. It deals, quite vividly, with the sexual abuse of a child, as well as emotional and physical abuse. There were scenes that made me feel physically ill, and you need to be prepared for that. The initial tone of the book seems like a light-hearted story about a little boy, Micka, who wants a puppy but after not getting one for his birthday goes and gets one from some Travellers he's befriended. However, things soon change as Micka has to keep the puppy a secret and so is abusing the puppy, hitting him to stop him making a noise and biting, keeping him in his room with no proper food and so the puppy ends up eating his own leg he's so hungry.

Laurie's plans for his magical bone involve him having to kill an animal, to get the bone, and then use the bone on different subjects to build up its power. Laurie seems like the more disturbing child, more manipulative and calculating, and I felt more sympathy for Micka because he's just a little boy who loves to draw but he doesn't have any opportunities in life and is experiencing such horrific abuse. It's traumatic to read, and it's frustrating to sense every moment that if someone could just step in, to help Micka and Laurie, then things could have been so different for both of them.

I can't imagine saying to a friend 'you must read this book', as it's not a pleasant subject to read about. However, it is a well written story, and as long as you're prepared for what's to come then it's a quick, compelling read.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion:

If you're looking for something a little less traumatic, but still told from a child's point of view, then you might enjoy The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. You could also try A Song of Isolation by Michael J Malone although we did have some reservations.

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Buy Micka by Frances Kay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Micka by Frances Kay at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Micka by Frances Kay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Micka by Frances Kay at Amazon.com.


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