As a boy Nathan Penlington had loved Choose Your Own Adventure novels. So when he came across a set of the first 106 volumes for sale on eBay, he snapped them up. Picking up the first, The Cave of Time, he was looking forward to a nostalgic trip back to his own childhood. What he discovered instead would send him off on adventure all of his own.
As he turned the pages, there was another story being written - in the margins were scribblings by the little boy who had originally owned them, a boy called Terence. There were hints on the coming adventure and jokes, but also something darker. Terence wrote about being bullied at school, the things he hated about himself, of a desperate need for friends. Later Nathan came across a few pages of diary:
Stole money from parents, bought airline ticket, ran away to Scotland. Saturday - detention x2. Left school with intention to kill myself. Drugs... Guns?
Even though it must have been twenty years since Terence wrote those words, it was clear that they were a cry for help. Nathan decided to answer that call: to find Terence, or at least find out what happened to him.
Nathan's search for Terence is at once funny, moving and more than a little quixotic. There would be dead ends and crossed wires, and along the way Nathan would have to face his own childhood demons. It is a story about the dark places that can exist in any childhood, but also of the sanctuary to be found in books. And at the end of his adventure Nathan would find one more surprise: a friend
Firstly may I thank the author and Bookbridgr for allowing me to read a review copy of this book.
The Boy in the Book is the first book by Nathan Penlington that I have read and I have to say I was not disappointed.
What drew me to the book was the element of child suffering and how this apparent devastating history had been documented in the form of a diary.
The book is about obsession, and how this can impact every aspect of our lives. On finding some scribbled notes inside his Choose Your Own Adventure books, Nathan Penlington finds himself on a curious real-life adventure where his need to find out the truth leads him to meet surprising people and learn more about himself.
I have always been interested in diary's and have kept one myself since the age of thirteen. Through a diary we reveal our inner most secrets, our dreams, our fears and our general outlook on life. One of the most famous examples of this being the diary of Anne Frank.
With this in mind I eagerly began my journey through Nathan's Penlington's book, exited about what I would learn. What I didn't expect was for the book to be so personal to the author, telling me about his issues in his own youth, the medical trauma's he had faced over his life and how, on finding Terence Prendergast's diary, Nathan had faced his own childhood.
I don't want to reveal to much about the plot of the book as I feel that in order to fully appreciate the story told, one needs to experience it themselves. However I will mention that what I have found the most interesting and what has prompted me to re-read my own diary is the way in which so much can be discovered about a person from merely what they write down in a book. As Nathan himself mentions, diary's are personal, people who write them do not usually expect them to be read by others, at least not in their lifetime, because of this no reserve is used when keeping a diary, people are truly honest.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history, non-fiction and detective work. You will not be disappointed.