Inside my Head

Inside my Head; Bloomsbury; 2010

Book summary (taken from Amazon UK): This cleverly constructed narrative consists of three points of view: of Gary, constantly victimised by the school bully in a nasty, name-calling and vindictive way; the bully’s friend, David and a new girl to the school, Zoe. All viewpoints are revealing. Gary reveals the painful and often unsuccessful attempts by a young man to control his anger under great provocation – and his inability to communicate. David is someone who is uncomfortable with the bullying but doesn’t dare to do anything about it – until the end. Zoe is a young woman who can see Gary through different eyes and is independent, freethinking and brave.

Literature for Lads review:
This is Jim Carrington’s debut novel and it’s fair to say it’s pretty hard hitting.  The central theme of the novel is bullying and Carrington has taken this difficult subject and dealt with it in a sensitive manner.  He does this whilst at the same time keeping the reader engaged with a great story.

As indicated in the book summary the story is told from three different points of view; Gary, the victim, David, best friend of high school bully Knaggs and Zoe the new girl who has just moved from London to the Norfolk countryside.  As the story progress it becomes clear that these three characters story lines are going to collide.

Carrington has used the experience he has of being a teacher to good effect with this novel.  His descriptions of classroom situations are spot on and the scenes which take place in the playground are depicted expertly.  It’s also pleasing to see Carrington base the novel in the area he grew up in, Norfolk, as opposed to the more familiar inner city setting often seen in books dealing with this subject.  It reminds us all that bullying can be a problem in any setting or situation.

The three main characters in the book are all interesting in their own way.  Gary, the victim of bullying, is a young adult struggling with anger management and unable to communicate with those close to him. Subject to mass provocation at school he resorts to physical violence to try and deal with his troubles. David, uncomfortable with what his best friend subjects Gary to, is made to think what friendship really is.  Zoe uprooted from the hustle and bustle of London and dumped in rural Norfolk not only has to come to terms with this, but after befriending Gary is plunged into helping him deal with his troubles.

Some may find it surprising that the bully, Knaggs, is not given his own narrative in the book.  However it’s refreshing to have kept the bully out of the limelight. The teasing, name calling and psychological effects the bullying has on Gary is still evident as it’s told through the eyes of the three other characters.

The language used in the book is sometimes that of the playground, but this should not distract the reader from what is a clever, well written book.  I’d go as far to suggest that the book should be on the shelf of every school library.  It takes the ever present problem of bullying and tackles it head on.  Carrington deals with the issue in a way that young adults will relate and respond to and this book deserves to be read.

Marks out of 10: 7

(Thanks to Emma Bradshaw at Bloomsbury Books for supplying the copy of the book)

For more information on Jim Carrington click here