‘Oh but it’s such a positive book!’ – or some very similar sentence – chirped the happy author Linda Strachan, the one who enjoys murdering, on the subject of her book Dead Boy Talking. That should teach me to voice my fears aloud. I had thought – I really did – that it was an obvious thing to have concerns about. Knife crime. Never nice. Boy dying throughout the book. Not top of my list of favourite things.
But Linda seemed genuinely surprised at the mere idea that dying teenagers would put me off. Anyway, a dare is a dare, so Daughter was ordered to pack Dead Boy Talking and bring it to me. (And don’t anybody else dare dare me again! I’m not up for it.)
I kept hoping the boy – Josh – wouldn’t die after all. But if he didn’t, then I’d be talking to the trades description people. And throughout the story you’re never quite sure. He might survive. Might he? Or? What’s the positive aspect? Is it that..?
Well, I clearly can’t tell you. But yes, it is positive. Sort of. And not.
There is more than one knifing happening, and several other tragedies, or at least problem situations, woven into Josh’s story. We see what happened, but don’t know why. We see different points of view. And we can learn from it.
So, that’s my Edinburgh International Book Festival book review for you. Challenged by the author herself, in Charlotte Square.