3 out of 4 stars
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Maxx is in Reading Hell. Along with the rest of the ‘hopeless’ kids in school, he’s been sentenced to the classroom that most teachers prefer to avoid. Each kid has a problem that has brought them there, but not all of them are to do with their learning. Maxx is one of these kids. Who can read well if their stomach is rumbling all day? Who can join in a class baking session if their parents would beat them for requesting their designated ingredient?
A Bloody Book by Chris Bowen is an in-depth look into the life of an abused child. It focuses largely on the educational impacts of the neglection. In some ways it could nearly be a guidebook for teachers and how they should treat children who are having difficulties. Bowen’s own background as an educator allows him to provide these insights through Maxx. Often teachers treat the children in the class in ways that push their confidence lower and increase their problems, rather than helping them, and this is exhibited throughout Maxx’s narrative.
The novel reads as a stream of consciousness. Maxx relays his life in fragments, dipping in and out of different moments so that the reader can put together his past for themselves. Although it is fiction, it could certainly be mistaken for an autobiography, with a realistic tone. As the subject matter is quite sensitive, this style is a clever choice. Maxx’s descriptions don’t focus on the fact that he is being abused, as it is all he has really known. At times it is blatant but at others it can only be read between the lines and this really makes the book the heart-breaking piece that it is.
As the content is so difficult, I would recommend it only to mature teenagers from the age of fourteen and up. I would question the book’s status as a young adult novel, as I feel adults may benefit from it even more than these teens. In contrast, I would recommend that anyone suffering from depression consider avoiding this book instead, as its contents are very bleak. Those with a past of trauma may find it helpful, or may find it to be a negative experience, so I would also warn that this content is difficult and should be approached with caution.
Although I loved the book, the text had several errors, and this really took away from my enjoyment. Many of these were included as they were part of Maxx’s vocabulary, but I also found some that appeared to be accidental. There were nine of these that I counted, so in such a short book (you could read it in one sitting), this was very noticeable.
Overall, I would rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. The content is important and eye-opening. Unfortunately, the grammatical errors prevent me from giving it a higher score.
A Bloody Book
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