Dead Boy Talking

Dead Boy Talking

‘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.

5 responses to “Dead Boy Talking

  1. Glad you did read it and that you ‘sort of’ agreed with me,
    ‘But yes, it is positive. Sort of. And not.’ – and hope you didn’t find it too traumatic, for a timid witch!

  2. I’ll never be the same again. Squeek.

  3. Hhhmm, not sure ‘positive’ is an adjective I’d use about ‘Dead Boy Talking’. Compelling, gripping, – yes. Tragic, fatalistic – yes. Thought provoking, disturbing – yes. Positive? – sorry, not so sure.

  4. I think Linda used ‘positive’ (or very similar word) to indicate the end might not be a total disaster. Good comes out of bad, or whatever. But yes, I felt she was trying to say ‘sunny’ about dying, stabbed boy.

    Oh dear, I’m just making it worse, I suspect.

  5. I was never trying to stay ‘sunny’ about it at all. As a mother it is terrifying when you hear real life accounts of the terrible things that happen to kids. Especially those who experience such traumatic events, when they are just trying out the edges and don’t know how to handle the consequences to their actions.

    But as a writer I refuse to pretend that the world is easy for them or that everything always turns out well, because sometimes it doesn’t. I am not at all ‘sunny’ about anyone dying or being stabbed or injured in any way. I just wanted to give young people the chance to explore (safely) what might happen as one thing leads to another and life goes out of control. Saying that I also never want to leave a book completely without hope, or some kind of thought for the future of my characters.

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