This book! I finished reading this itty bitty book about two weeks ago and I still don’t really know what to say about it. It’s not that I didn’t feel anything. I felt eight soggy tissues worth of anguish and heartache. I felt so mad, wanting to scream at Raylene until she finally did what I told her to. I felt this righteous anger bubbling up inside me as an entire community failed this young boy and his father.
I felt inspired, wanting to reach out to child protection workers everywhere, urging them to make this book required reading. I felt drained, knowing that all too often voices that need to be heard are silenced. I felt like I needed to read a book about sunshine and daisies and unicorns dancing through rainbows after finishing this one because I needed to remember that the world doesn’t just suck.
This is one of those books where you know almost immediately that you’re walking straight into a crime scene. The title gives you a hint – Boy In The Shed. In case you have any illusions that this is a lovely story of a boy who loves to play in a shed, stop right there. This boy lives in the shed. This boy is beaten brutally for merely existing. This boy has no formal education. This boy has not heard his name for so long that he can no longer remember what it is.
This is not the kind of book that you can finish and say you enjoyed it. It’s the type of book that will haunt you and get under your skin, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing because we should be affected by child abuse. If you have children I hope this book brings home how vital it is to have tough conversations with them, about what they can do and who they can tell if they or a friend of theirs is being abused. It sounds so clichéd saying that evil triumphs when good people do nothing but this is what abusers rely on from you in order to continue getting away with it – silence, looking the other way, pretending you don’t know what’s really going on.
Thankfully this book is also about a beautiful friendship between this boy and 14 year old Raylene. There’s this sweet innocence between the two, which in a way makes the brutality of the boy’s circumstances seem so much more horrific. Raylene brings him much needed food and provisions. She teaches him how to read. She offers him kindness, love and friendship when all he’s ever known is pain. They become family to one another.
The writing style feels young and comes across as though a young teen is writing about her experience. I did feel as though the children in this book acted younger than 14 but that may boil down to their shared innocence.
If you read Boy In The Shed, remember to have a box of tissues nearby and a stash of comfort food. Whatever you do, don’t try to quiet cry in the middle of the night while everyone else is asleep because your body will want to sob and denying it that is how migraines start. I should know. I wound up with a doozy. 😃
This book was recommended to me by Elyse (thanks, Elyse! 💕) and while I don’t imagine that I could endure the heartbreak of a second read through, I am glad I read it. Looking through the blur of tears I also discovered a beautiful friendship and that’s what I want to take away from this experience.
Once Upon a Blurb
I hide behind a few trees and make my way to the shed. As I kneel behind it to make sure there is no one in the house, I hear a faint “Hello.” The voice knocks me to the ground and I nearly scream from fright. I steady myself on my knees and look through a hole in the shed. There I see a young boy who must be around my age. He is crouching in the corner of the shed under a dirty blanket. He looks as if he has never taken a bath in his life or had a proper hair cut – his hair hangs in his eyes. I wonder how he can see out of it. The shed is dirty inside with lots of cobwebs everywhere. I can also see mouse droppings everywhere, along with piled-up junk.
“Hi,” he says again.
“Hi, what are you doing in there? Are you lost?” I ask.
“No I live here.”
“You live here?”