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Island Life, Word Birds & Process

It isn’t my habit to regularly post book reviews. I’m a writer not a book blogger. Every now & then a special book comes my way & it becomes a pleasure to share my thoughts about it here.

Not Thomas, by Sara Gethin is such a book.

Unquestionably, unless you are made of stone, this book will make you cry. It will snag the edge of your heart, lodge in your throat & reduce you to tears. It’s a dark story with a paradoxically light centre which is one of its myriad graces. The story of the little boy who is ‘Not Thomas’ – if only the lady would listen – is by turn heart-rending & ultimately hopeful.

Tomos’ plight is shocking & in our so-called civilized society, no child should have to deal with the things this brave little five-year-old endures. As the story opens, Tomos is hiding, because that’s what his young, damaged, vulnerable mother has told him to do. The lady is coming & he knows not to open the door. As it unfolds, other, more sinister people come & still, Tomos tries not to open the door.

He is a neglected child (surely the worst kind of abuse since it is so easily remedied) & his predicament is shameful. And yet, in spite of her apparent deafness to her child’s plight, we can’t help but sympathise with Tomas’ mother, the way we give thanks for Miss – who does listen.

The beauty of this book lies in the gorgeous, deceptively simple prose. Told from the viewpoint of Tomos, Sara Gethin perfectly describes him – describes him telling the reader who he is, how he feels, what he fears. She does so in language which is both childlike & never childish. It possesses a naive maturity which draws you in. I read it in one sitting, unable to set it aside, mesmerised by the poignancy & tragedy of Tomos’ young life, the lyrical prose & the hope which held me rapt – like my now & then actual caught breath – to the end.

The author exposes the frailties of a social services system which is sometimes less than fit for purpose without ever apportioning blame. She is without rancour, pragmatic & honest in her fictional assessment & thus she reveals the limitless humanity of the book. Hers & ours, which is the reason why, when we read this book, we weep.

Not Thomas is a book which must surely win prizes.

It is available directly from the publisher, Honno or Amazon & selected bookshops.

not thomas

You can read more about Sara & her writing here.

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