What I Did
Imagine you are a six-year old boy. You experience the world with a minimal amount of knowledge about it.
You cannot understand nor even begin to comprehend why people you don't know want to talk to you about your parents and whether they may be mean to you or do bad things to you. You cannot begin to fathom what might be going on, so you retreat into your world of animals and movies and Lego blocks.
That's the world Wakling
constructs here, a beautiful place where six-year old Billy spends a lot of time watching David Attenborough on television and teaching three-year-old Lizzie about fish. One day while taking a walk with his father and pretending he's a bat and a wolf and a snail, he makes a sort of subconscious decision to flee from his dad. This triggers a series of episodes that makes Child Protection Services believe Billy is being abused by the father.
Wakling is a master at mixing reality with fantasy. You'll love seeing the world through a six-year old's eyes. But this is not a children's book. The issues here are dark and have consequence. Here is a brief excerpt from the book's beginning as explained by Billy:
"Sadly there are no light savers in this story. It is all real. It is about a terrible thing which happens to me. But watch out because the thing you think is the terrible thing isn't really it. Other things come later and they're worse. I'm not going to tell you what they are yet because now isn't the time. That is called suspension.
"I also have to warn you that nobody is bad or good here, or rather everyone is a bit bad and a bit good and the bad and good moluscules get mixed
up against each other and produce terrible chemical reactions.
"Did you know cheetahs cannot retract their claws?"
This is a remarkable book from a wonderful writer. It will scare you and delight you and make you want to search out his other works.