Review Blog

Jul 21 2009

They told me I had to write this by Kim Miller

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Ford Street, 2009.
ISBN 9781876462840 (Age 12+) Highly recommended. What an emotional roller coaster ride for Clem, and all who read this absorbing and challenging book. Kim Miller's knowledge and understanding of angry and unhappy youths comes through very strongly as he writes with emotion and candour through an adolescent's voice. The title implies an unhappy youth, yet throughout the novel hope shines through. Clem believes his mother's death at his birth is his fault. He and his father have a tumultuous relationship made more difficult from a sexually abusive teacher! He writes to his recently dead grandmother at the behest of the school counsellor called 'the Rev'. The language is that of a teenager at war with himself and the world, (he's in a school for toxic teenagers), but wonderful pieces of wit and humour and growing self awareness are laced throughout the letters and gives the reader a real sense of hope for the 'Clems' of this world. Clem finds peace within himself, a first love and a strong bond between father and son.The topics are tough and of our time but the enduring strength given by the teachers in Clem's school is a reminder of the positive effect teachers can have on each child's development. A fast paced novel well worth reading no matter who you teach.
Sue Nosworthy

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