12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2008
The only reason why this book would have been banned for 50 years in Britain is because the story line pierced into the heart of Britain's then hypocritical puritanical system. The legal system in particular chose to ignore the plight of Boys forced into a brutal and uncompromising work system and then to be abused mentally, emotionally, physically and in many instances sexually. These factors James Hanley has expertly crafted into his story.
The charge of obscenity which was at the forefront of the banning is simply ludicrous by today's standards. Whilst the story alludes to sex acts between obnoxious drunken sailors and the Boy and possibly 2 acts with prostitutes in Alexandria, no details are given. The former filling the Boy with utter disgust and the latter being somewhat confusing and frightening for the inexperienced Boy.
The main import of the story is the tragedy that is the short life of the Boy- that for countless numbers of boys through history cries out on their behalf and in a sense becomes a story that needed to be told.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2010
This book written in 1931 should make the reader reflect on their own start in life. Set in Liverpool in a depressed time probably in the 1920's and not without fault this is a book which should have a wider readership.
The book's notoriety is sadly a reflection of Political Correctness albeit a 1930's version of what is sexually acceptable in print. In the 21st C it is difficult to note which passages were not acceptable.
James Hanley very realistically portrays an account of a boy (Arthur Fearon) who stows away with dreams of a new world. His decision to runaway results from his parent's decision that he give up his education to bring in much needed income, a dilemma not often faced today. To some the narrative may seem bleak but unlike most bleak narratives "Boy" is an inspiring read as it follows the struggles of an intelligent 13 year old boy yearning to be accepted in an unfriendly man's world but increasingly feeling isolated and friendless.