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Customer Review

23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shocking in parts, 7 May 2011
This review is from: Goodnight Mister Tom (Paperback)
I have been reading snippets of Goodnight Mr Tom to my two children aged 8 and 9, as my partner and I take it in turns to read the bedtime story each evening. Although I think that the book is very good, and well-written, I have to mention that I was deeply shocked by the graphic portrayal of Will's abuse by his mother. The description of his condition at the beginning of the book bothered me quite a lot, and I felt so sorry for the poor little boy that my 9 year-old daughter had to put my mind at rest! I was then unfortunate enough to read the part where Will's mother lures him home under false pretences, beats him and then and then locks him in a cupboard more or less to die. He is found sometime later by Tom with a dead baby in his arms. I found this part of the book deeply shocking, and could hardly bear to continue reading it to my children as I felt that it exposed them to issues which they would not be able to comprehend at their age. I felt that the level of abuse and violence suffered by Will was gratuitous, and that the same point could have been made without him having to suffer so much. Also, the mother's sick mind was only indicated, and not fully explained, which I also found disturbing. I think that if I had read this part of the story at the age of 9 or 10, it would have worried me for a long time afterwards, and I think that the author could have shown more sensitivity to the minds of young readers. I just wondered if anybody felt the same way as me about this book.
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Comments

Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jul 2011 16:58:03 BDT
storydad says:
Terrible things happen all the time in the world and some children have to live through experiences like Will's in real life. Surely it is healthier to let a child discover such truths through a sensitively written novel which can be discussed with caring parents than to blythely go through life unaware of what really goes on in the world.

Posted on 26 Dec 2011 12:33:03 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2011 20:36:08 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 29 Dec 2011 20:37:16 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2011 20:38:58 GMT
Chocaholic says:
Politeness - ever heard of it?

Posted on 30 Jan 2012 00:30:28 GMT
D. Xu says:
I agree with all that you said in the review, and i would have felt the same way should i have had to read it to my children.

However I have to say that giving this book only 3 stars seems a little unfair. As the book was never intended, nor indicated it to be for children. Though books don't come with age recommendation as films and toys might, but as a parent, you should at least double check before you read something to your children.

I guess my point is, it is an excellent book. Just not one for younger children. And it is a little unfair if you judge the book by how well it suits readers outside it's target audiences.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2012 14:31:36 GMT
Richard says:
Thank you for your comment. I hadn't realised that this was a book for adults - as far as I remember, I found it in the 8-12 section at Waterstones. I think that it would be hard to double-check every book before reading it to children, and I normally trust the age range recommendations given by the retailer. Yes, it is a good book, and everybody else rated it highly, so I don't think my 3 stars will damage its reputation too much !

Posted on 3 May 2012 20:39:55 BDT
I have just finished reading this to my 9 year old twins. They both realise that horrible things happen in this world and I was unsure about reading the worst part of Will's abuse. But my children couldn't bear for me to leave anything out, and I felt that as an adult, I could explain that Will's mother was a mentally ill woman who should be pitied rather than villified. I don't feel that my children were damaged by having this book read to them, to be honest they are more likely to be shocked by some of the items they are exposed to on ITV's Daybreak!

In reply to an earlier post on 5 May 2012 23:51:29 BDT
Chocaholic says:
Thank you for your comment on my review. I have just re-read it to remind myself what I wrote a year ago, and I think that I should reiterate the fact that, although I also believe children should not be shielded from some of life's hardships, the point I was trying to make is that the author went too far in her depiction of the cruelty suffered by Tom in the hands of his mother. Surely the author could have put her point across without having to subject young readers to such a high level of rather sick abuse. I thought that this was gratuitous and not very sensitively handled by the author.

Posted on 28 Oct 2012 17:15:18 GMT
R. Wood says:
I'm an English teacher and have taught this novel to Year 7 (11- and 12-year-olds) as part of a unit of WWII stories for the past three years. The kids absolutely love it and part of the reason for that is BECAUSE it exposes them to what life was like for many children their age - and younger - during that period in time, and unfortunately, still is suffered by children to this day. I've never taught a novel that has engaged children so well and taught them so much about the past and the present. Whilst the depictions of child abuse are indeed grim (e.g. a reference to 'congealed blood' on Willie Beech's head), it is such details which make the novel and its themes so powerful. If you would rather not expose your children to such thtmes (perhaps they are a couple of year too young, to be fair), I'd recommend series such as 'Artemis Fowl', 'Keys to the Kingdom' and especially the wonderful 13-part series 'A Series of Unfortunate Events', which is fantastic. The 'Lionboy' trilogy would also be a good read for them - it's all centred on a boy who can speak cat and runs away with a floating circus.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2013 13:28:50 GMT
Jam jar says:
I came to check whether this book would be suitable for my eight year old and six year old. Having read your review, I don't think so! So thank you. I might give it to my 15 year old to read instead.
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