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Mrs Stebbings, Carmel College


A truly disturbing and harrowing story which tells the story of a mixed race boy, born from an immoral liaison between his supposedly devout Catholic mother and an African sailor. Orphaned by the age of eleven, Beck is sent to an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy where he is victimised and bullied for being of mixed race. At the age of fourteen, Beck, along with other boys from the orphanage, is sent to Canada for what promises to be an adventure. What follows is a fictionalised account of the historic, well documented factual abuse suffered by young emigrant boys in the care of the Christian Brotherhood.
My concerns regarding the advisory content and 16+ guidance were justified as I found the description of the cruelty and sexual abuse that the boys were subjected to, as wholly inappropriate in a book intended for young adults and worse still, in a book shortlisted for a childrens book award. Had the content of the first two parts of the book been not as brutal and had the author(s) been more mindful about including consensual sexual content in a book intended for young adults and not adults (there should be a clear difference) I would have considered it a worthy and appropriate addition to the shortlist. There were so many beautiful messages: that generosity/love can come from the most unlikely people in society; that we should be respectful of indigenous people and treat all races as equal; that we should value the historic advancement in women’s rights; and perhaps most crucially that we should not be consumed by the evil deeds of others. Sadly, because of the adult content, I will recommend that our shadowers not read this book.

Posted on: 23rd April 2017 at 06:16 pm

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