Your Rating and Overall Opinion (Spoilers)

Discuss the October 2013 book of the month "The Boy who Lived with Ghosts" by John Mitchell.
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How do you rate The Boy Who Lived with Ghosts?

1 star - poor, recommend against reading it
No votes
2 stars - fair, okay
3 stars - good, recommend it
4 stars - excellent, amazing
Total votes: 21

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Your Rating and Overall Opinion (Spoilers)

Post by Scott » 02 Oct 2013, 18:22

What is your overall rating/opinion of the October 2013 book of the month, "The Boy Who Lived with Ghosts" by John Mitchell? Please use the poll to submit your rating, and reply with your comments and thoughts about the book as a whole. Do not read this topic until you have finished the book because this topic may contain spoilers.
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by deppfan » 03 Oct 2013, 12:54

I am new to the forum and I cannot see the poll.

I felt the characters and scenes were written in a way that made them very real and easy to picture. While it is true it may be partially due to being a memoir and thus based on fact, not everyone could write the story in a way that made it feel so real, especially from the perspective of a child. At times my heart broke for the little boy trying to make sense of the adult turmoil around him. It is easy to forget how we as adults appear to the children in our lives and how strange the things we say to them may be if accepted literally.

Somewhere around the end of the second part of the book I felt it began to drag. I think some of the scenes that concerned John and his friends became too much. It would have been better to stay with the main theme of the family situation.

I really liked the book, it is one that will stay with me and make me think for a long time.

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Post by goalpucks » 06 Oct 2013, 11:57

For the first quarter of the book I had a hard time sticking with it. I almost put the book down and moved onto a different book. However, I try not to do that often so I continued to grind it out. As the book progressed, I found that it became an easier read. I likely won't go out of my way to recommend this one to anybody but I'm glad I finished it and if you've already started, stick with it until the end, it gets better.

One of the reasons it becomes a so called "easier" read is actually one of the reasons why this book deserves a decent rating. The grammar, language, and comprehension gradually gets better as the boy telling the story ages. This shouldn't be overlooked as it shows the author's ability to make the character's age progression as real as possible.

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Post by Jenn+books » 07 Oct 2013, 03:46

This is an interesting book--especially from the viewpoint of the last chapter, written from the adult John's perspective about his reasons for writing the book. He certainly had a lot to deal with as a child, and I'm sure it has been hard on him. (It's actually amazing to me that he was able to grow up with as much awareness as he apparently did, considering what he lived through as a child!) The final chapter, however, seems a little incongruent with the rest of the book. Throughout the book, much of the content was about John and his own experiences as a child. We saw Margueretta here and there--got little pieces of her mental illness, but not as much as I would have thought if the goal of John Mitchell's writing was to tell "Margueretta's story" (427). I'm not discounting John's experiences, just pointing out that his goal seems to be to tell his own story, not hers.

As far as John's story, it was a little hard to read at times. There was so much vomiting, defecating, urinating, drinking, sex, dirtiness, and starvation! I felt dirty at times, just reading about all the bodily fluids flowing about! And then we add to that the blood and death and destruction going on in the home that John directly experienced as a child. It's almost mind-boggling. Like I said earlier, it's hard to believe that John emerged from his childhood as relatively unscathed, mentally and emotionally, as he did. I'm sure there are scars--how could there not be??--but he was able to come to terms with his past and himself well enough to put together this book. Talk about your childhood ghosts! I think they were real in every way to him when he was living in that house, and I hope for him that a few of them have been exorcized through the writing of this book. I would recommend this book, but with the caveat that it's not for the faint of heart.

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Post by Zannie » 15 Oct 2013, 02:41

goalpucks wrote:For the first quarter of the book I had a hard time sticking with it. I almost put the book down and moved onto a different book. However, I try not to do that often so I continued to grind it out. As the book progressed, I found that it became an easier read. I likely won't go out of my way to recommend this one to anybody but I'm glad I finished it and if you've already started, stick with it until the end, it gets better.
I agree with goalpucks. I also found this book hard to read and rather gross in spots. I nearly put the book down. However it talks about childhood schizophrenia through the eyes of a child who witnessed it. We as readers only find out the about the diagnosis at the same time as John (the protagonist). So the reader gets the same experience described as John saw it at the time.

The unveiling of this disorder was very cleverly done, making the earlier events in the book make sense. I recommend this book especially if you would like an insight in to living with and treating childhood schizophrenia in the 1960's.

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Post by WendyM » 28 Oct 2013, 01:31

This is not a book I would choose without a prompt to do so, but I’m glad I gave it a go.

The settings - housing estates and pubs - paint a vivid picture right from the beginning, and the interactions of the family members bring to life an interesting and volatile childhood that, although it’s revealed in a touching and amusing way, is quite shocking at the same time.

I liked the way John parroted the phrases of the adults around him, casually pointing out that he’d break his bloody neck one day, and the way he started each chapter with a complete deconstruction of any earlier optimism made it hard to remember that this isn’t fiction - this was a real childhood, shocking in places and difficult by any standards.

Margueretta takes centre stage, claiming any and all attention, healthy or not, and in the early days of mental illness diagnoses, created every kind of tension in an already tough situation. I felt sympathetic to the entire family, but perhaps for John’s mother most of all, and her breakdown was more expected than surprising.

This was a fascinating glimpse into a different time, and a different way of life.

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Post by Aubrey_Archard » 08 Nov 2013, 23:07

It was a pretty good book. Simple writing, which was easy to follow, as well as thought provoking. Worth reading for sure. 8)

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Post by vegksal » 19 Dec 2013, 15:09

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I really enjoyed how the character's voice aged with him throughout the book... It was interesting to view the world through his eyes-- through the innocence of a child.

I'd give it 4 stars.

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Post by Casandra » 03 Jan 2014, 00:42

Good book, my vote: 4 stars

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Post by Sarah1 » 18 May 2014, 15:07

I had a hard time getting into this book. Not my prefered style.
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Post by kio » 24 May 2014, 11:42

I had a hard time getting into it, but it was interesting once I did.
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Post by PashaRu » 20 Nov 2014, 21:46

Seems the overall opinion of this book isn't great. Doesn't make me want to rush and read it.
[Insert quote here. Read. Raise an eyebrow. Be mildly amused. Rinse & repeat.]

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Post by nicepokemon » 11 Dec 2014, 12:50

This may just be me but this is one of my favorite books I have read

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Post by 3chicnP » 23 Dec 2014, 19:12

I read this book at night on my Kindle and it sent chills through my spines. I hate horror books because I hate being scared but I really enjoyed this book. I rate it 3/4.
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Post by ananya92 » 10 Jan 2015, 22:35

This book was an easy read, with simple yet realistic characters. The story was easy to follow and was well written enough to be scary where it needed to be. A book worth a read.

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