Micka is a 10 year old boy, who has a hard life to say the least. His mother can’t be bothered with looking after him, and takes no interest in his education, his father is nowhere to be seen, and at least one of his two older brothers is frequently in prison and physically abuses Micka when he’s at home.
He soon becomes friends with Laurie, a new boy at his school. Laurie may come from a better background, but his parents are splitting up, and while his mother behaves irrationally, his father is emotionally distant.
Laurie has a vivid imagination, and dreams of cruelty and magic, and as Micka is pulled into his world, the lines between fact and fiction become blurred until both boys find themselves on a seemingly inevitable course towards a horrifying conclusion…
This book was amazingly well written. It is narrated by Micka and Laurie in turn; in the proof copy I read, each narrator is distinguished by a different font. However, the difference between the language which the two boys used also distinguished them from each other.
It is certainly a disturbing book to read, which was expected as the book was apparently informed by the Mary Bell and Jamie Bulger cases. Before we even get to the troubling ending of the story, there are descriptions of physical abuse in the home and cruelty to animals. However, one of the hardest parts to stomach was the reasoning behind the boys’ actions.
I thought the characterisation of the two boys was excellent. Micka seemed like an innocent child stranded in a violent world, whereas Laurie was by far the colder and more calculating of the two.
Overall, this is a quick read, but certainly one that will linger in the memory. Highly recommended – but perhaps not for readers of a nervous disposition.