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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab to read
I thoroughly enjoyed reading `Boy A' as much as I enjoyed watching the film adaptation for television a number of years ago. It isn't a lengthy novel so it is never going to go into a massive amount of detail. There are reviews that I've read where people would like to see the book being about Boy B and I can see why as there would surely have been more meaty prose to...
Published on 7 Nov. 2011 by SJSmith

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A formidable moral dilemma
This is not about the Jamie Bulgar case, though it has distinct and unmistakable echoes of that case that suggest it could not have been written without its real-life counterpart having taken place. It has almost the same scenario - two boys, both miserable, seemingly unloved, one under the influence of a brutal older brother, the other easily led, and a day when they...
Published on 13 Sept. 2009 by Eileen Shaw


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab to read, 7 Nov. 2011
By 
SJSmith (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading `Boy A' as much as I enjoyed watching the film adaptation for television a number of years ago. It isn't a lengthy novel so it is never going to go into a massive amount of detail. There are reviews that I've read where people would like to see the book being about Boy B and I can see why as there would surely have been more meaty prose to write (a possible idea for a second novel?), however the information the author gives us about Boy A's involvement makes it more worthwhile for me. At the critical point he could have stopped but he didn't and whilst the crime isn't made explicit - well obviously it resulted in murder but the bit before the murder - the reader is left to wonder over sexual assault or even rape. Although during the recount aspect of the novel, Boy A continually states he wasn't involved it is left up to the reader to come to their own judgement.

It is certainly an easy book to read in terms of length and style and I loved the alphabetical chapter headings, fitted in well with the idea of Boy A and Boy B. Even though it is fiction there is the obvious impact real life events had on the ideas for the novel and for me this book gives you an insight into the thoughts about what goes on behind the scenes and how a new life is created for criminals who have served their sentence but need protection (and should they actually be given it but that is outside of the realms of a book review!). I found the relationship between Terry and Jack very interesting but wonder how much the boundaries between this professional relationship would come across in real life; he really did love Jack more than his own son.

A lot is crammed into such a small number of pages and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if his identity hadn't been worked out until much later on when he may have had a family - the implications there are so different to what Jack as the age he is in the novel faced. I also loved the ambiguity about who actually called the press. The reader is left to wonder so much.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read!, 25 May 2004
By 
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
I was very surprised to find that this is the first novel from Jonathan Trigell, Boy A is a very powerful & hard-hitting book, written in a very easy to read style and totally unputtdownable!
Boy A, or Jack as he is now called, is a young man released from prison after being locked up for most of his life. The book charts his release in to the real world and how he deals with everyday situations that we all take for granted. He also has to learn to cope with the aftermath of the horrific act that got him sentenced. One minute a monster, one minute a boy who just did something very bad when he was young, Jack really gets under your skin and causes you to think – what if?
Totally different to any other book that I have read recently it is also very refreshing to read a book where the ending did not disappoint! I can not recommend this enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Hitting and Thought Provoking, 5 Jun. 2011
By 
Lincs Reader (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
At long last, I've finally gotten around to reading Boy A. I really enjoyed the film adaptation of this novel some years ago and wanted to leave a good while before reading the book. I was prompted to pick it up by the fact that Daniel Clay's novel; 'Broken' is about to be adapted by the same director.

Boy A is one of those novels that will make you 'think'. Putting aside the sensationalist media reports about recent children who have killed, the reader can get a glimpse into what life could be like for someone who has been convicted of a very serious offence.

Powerful, gripping and of course, sparking controversy, but never trite, never overly emotional - hard-hitting and gripping writing.

Very highly recommended.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Structured and observed, 6 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
Reading the publisher's blurb gives you an idea of the plot but reading the book is something different. Boy A is "reborn" following a spell in various prison establishments and is let free. This is his story - but as we go through the chapters of the novel, each one starting with a letter of the alphabet, his backstory is revealed - it seems that Boy A can never escape his past, despite having done the time for his crime.

The reader is made to feel something of a voyeur - because the shame of Boy A (now called Jack) is so deep. There are indications that Boy A is in the same position as one of the killers of Jamie Bulger - of being described by the media as a monster who has done something unforgiveable and inhuman. The reader is put in the position, frequently, of the public. There are allusions to the publicity surrounding the crime in the tabloids, and the role of the media in Jack's life is fundamental to the plot: despite the theory of crime and punishment, it seems that there can be no redemption, and no new rebirth.

The author intends us to feel not only pity for the protagonist, but also to explain how he has come to be this way - exploring through the medium of the old case files and the history of Boy A how he has never received the love and attention that would have led him to grow up as a socially responsible member of society, and thus how Boy A has lacked the appropriate stimuli to develop properly. There is even the possibility that Boy A was the accomplice to the crime committed by the other boy, and that he was unaware of the extent of the crime caused. As a child he has been tried in an adult court, and both prior and post sentence, he has never really been cared for by adults. Only his cell mate and his probation officer have a link with him.

Above all, this is a story about love and the lack of it, and of innocence and corruption - Jack's probation officer has formed more of a close relationship with Jack than with his own son, from whom he is estranged following his divorce from his wife. The denouement centres around jealousy and envy - Zed being the complete opposite of Boy A, yet someone who lives within the law as it is understood by the media.

If I were to summarize the obvious about this book it would be "hug a hoodie". But this misses out the way that the book plays to the reader - rather carefully manipulating the reader throughout, so we are put through a mixture of responses (voyeurism, shock, horror, sympathy, empathy, distaste and judgement) as we work through the alphabet of who Jack is: Jack the lad, Jack of all trades, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy - and who he might, with a bit of luck, become.

This is an excellent novel, and worth spending time on, if only to explore your own reactions to the situations described.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 16 Jan. 2008
By 
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
The idea of creating a book trying to draw sympathy for a suspected child killer is bold, beautiful and brilliant.
The book is absorbing, drawing you into Jack's new world while never letting you forget his past.

I read this after seeing the TV special (which I usually try and avoid doing), and for a change they stick very closely to each other - the only real difference being that the book contains much more backstory to the characters in Jack's world: his mum, Terry, Boy B, etc.

Would recommend this book to anyone, especially mature teen readers who can always do with a bit of a moral grey area to get them thinking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The film whilst great does not get you into the mind of the ..., 20 May 2015
By 
P. J. Steptoe (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Boy A (Kindle Edition)
I reads this book almost immediately after watching the film. The film whilst great does not get you into the mind of the characters as much as the book does. The book is easy to read and you can't help liking the main character despite his past. I would recommend reading it before seeing the film however as their are differences and reading the book second left me slightly confused - but this is a great read and a most excellent debut novel
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The aftermath of juvenile crime, 30 July 2009
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This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
Boy A

This is a must read - but an uncomfortable book to read - very thought provoking. Boy A, as a child, committed the most horrific, chilling crime. Newly released from jail, with a new identity to give him a fresh start, and to keep him safe from public outrage and revenge, he has to learn how to live again.

How clever the author is to make us feel real sympathy for the offender. Despite the horror of his crime, we really want him to adapt better to the outside world and move on. So there is a real see-saw of emotions here - revulsion at the crime, an empathy for the awkwardness of the square peg in the round hole.

Extraordinary - 4.5 stars!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine, thought provoking read, 1 Feb. 2010
By 
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
Reading the blurb on this book, I wasn't sure how I would feel about reading this. In a plot that clearly takes its influence from the Jamie Bolger murder, it is bound to be a book that draws conflicting emotions from the reader. On the one hand you have a young girl, whose life is taken away at a devastatingly young age. Of course she is the innocent in this case and her murderers should be punished. But on the other, the lives of the young murders are destroyed forever by this one event, can you judge someone for the rest of their lives based on making such a huge error in judgment?

Before reading this, I would have been sure I could never sympathize with a killer, never mind someone who kills a child. But Jack does not come across as a killer, he comes across as an ordinary young guy just trying to make the best of things. He is likable, mostly for his naivety and his loyalty to his friends and his case worker Terry.

Mostly this book made me question a lot of things. Like how would I react if I realised I worked with someone who killed a child? Should people who have served their time be given a clean slate, or should they forever be tarred with that same brush? Also from a media perspective, how far should the media be able to go with reporting on high profile cases?

This book deserves all the praise it has gotten, I'd recommend to anyone who wants to read something that makes them think.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for discussion, 12 Jan. 2009
By 
DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
This was a very clever book that rightfully earned the accolades it has accrued. We read it for a book group and it engendered some lively discussion about the fate of young offenders.

I was impressed how we were persuaded to feel affection for a character who we believed had committed an atrocity as a 10 year old, in spite of the unacceptable nature of his deed. We almost forgave him his 'misdemenour' as he made his way through life as a naiive young adult.

The author has a wonderful way with words - I particularly liked the quote: "He dunks a chunk of his tomato into the ketchup, before he realizes the absurdity of the action, and then finds that, in fact, even tomato is improved with ketchup".

Boy A does not slot into life on the "outside" easily and I think it is the way he genuinely struggles to make a go of it that endears him to the reader; we have the advantage of viewing his life from the inside and it is this that distinguishes him from other offenders.

The book certainly provides lots of food for thought and grounds for discussion. In fact several members of our reading group were reluctant to read it because of the subject matter, and in the end were very glad that they had.

Recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable and sad, but very well observed, 20 Feb. 2008
By 
Helen Simpson (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Boy A (Paperback)
A cleverly written account of a boy who has had to do most of his growing up in detention centres and prison. He is now 24 and is having to deal with a new experience...freedom...or is it?

Having been helped to choose a new name he has to try and learn how to fit into a life most of us take for granted. Meanwhile the media (red top newspapers specifically) bay for blood using photograph enhancements to guess what he looks like now and campaigns for the public to "...know who's living down their street."

As we read we learn about Jack both before his crime as well as the man he's trying to become. It is not however a story that cries out for sympathy 'because I had an unfortunate childhood'. It is far more subtle than that.
I like the way the chapters are alphabetically titled ("A is for Apple. A Bad Apple" / "T is for Time. Teachers and Trainers") which highlights the child Jack was, as well as relating to his experiences in life.

A disturbing story which we can all relate to in some form, even if only from the baying for blood/lynch mob mentality we saw at the time of the Jamie Bulger case. Whether it's the 'red top' readers who will be likely to read it though is another matter!
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Boy A
Boy A by Jonathan Trigell (Paperback - 29 April 2004)
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