'What's the point of writing anything about me?'
Jason Dooley is given a writing book to use as a journal by his teacher Pete. Pete tells him that the journal is private and that he can write whatever he wants in there, but Jason just views anything he might write as 'a waste of good paper'; there's no point in doing it. Nevertheless, he does go on to use the notebook to record the events of his days, and it builds into a record of his school and home life over the course of less than one month. Jason attends Heronford School, where pupils with behavioural difficulties are taught. He has hopes of attending another, regular school in the future. He is evidently an able boy but he has difficulties controlling his anger and temper at times, and his home environment has not always been a safe, supportive one.
During the period over which Jason writes his journal, a couple of things happen which significantly impact on him; firstly, his mother's former boyfriend Jon is back on the scene, and secondly, Richard and Aaron visit the school and work with Jason's class, they are a musician and a storyteller, and they involve the children in playing instruments and writing poetry based around the story of The Firebird, which Aaron tells them over a number of lessons, culminating in a performance by the class of their work. Jason writes down his impressions and feelings about what happens as Jon returns, fearing that his presence may cause a return to the dark days when his mother was taking drugs and at the lowest point Jason was taken into care, after enduring cruel treatment from Jon.
This is a fairly quick read, the diary format and the compelling voice of Jason made me want to keep reading on and finish the story in only a couple of sittings. I cared about Jason and was willing things to go well for him. I think the author has captured the style of writing that his lead character would use very well, as Jason tells us about the teachers at the school, his fellow pupils, and his life at home. The author has drawn on his own memories and experiences as a visiting writer at a school for boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties, giving his story authenticity. It makes for a moving, important read for young adults and older adults alike.
Published on 3 May 2012 by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
You can visit the author's website here to find out more.