26 November 2008

Boy A

O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive! (Scott) This book is about the ultimate deception: living a life that’s been invented for your own protection.


by Jonathan Trigell

At 24, Jack is released from prison, and enters the real world for the first time since he was locked up as a 9-year-old. He’s been set up with a job, a place to stay, an ‘uncle’ to help him adjust to freedom. He’s also been set up with a new identity, because ‘Jack’ is known to the public as Boy A, one of two 9-year-old boys convicted of killing a little girl.

There are many parallels with the Jamie Bulger case in England in the early 1990s, and that’s not accidental. When Bulger’s killers were released, theoretically having paid their debt to society, society was savagely angry. So it is in Boy A: Jack is tragically grateful for the ordinary things like air and light and conversation, but simultaneously haunted, hunted, and finding how desperately hard it is to live below the radar. How impossible it is to live a lie and still be a friend, a boyfriend.

Stigma is a painfully limiting thing to live with – sufferers of HIV, mental illness , even lung cancer patients struggle with stigma continually. If more than stigma, you’re also carrying the taint of evil, as Jack discovers, life is unbearable. And society is unbearable.

More than a brooding story of growing threat, growing vulnerability, however, Boy A is an exploration of how benign neglect can twist a childhood; how bullying can make savages out of children; how idealism can be its own worst enemy. It’s a challenging and amazing read.

Click here to buy this book.

(Review by Heather Parker)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.