Title: How the Trouble Started
Author: Robert Williams
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Edition: eGalleySetting: UK
Date Completed: September/2012
I had a feeling this coming-of-age story was going to be an addictive read from the very first paragraph, which begins like this.....
"The police were involved over the trouble. They had to be. But I didn't think of them as the police at first. As an eight-year-old boy I expected uniforms, flashing lights and handcuffs. Speeding cars and the glimpse of a gun. Instead there was this woman in a business suit who drove a grey car slowly and always smelt of coffee. She told me to call her Tracy, but I never called a grown-up by their first name before and couldn't bring myself to do it. I tried, but it felt as impossible as saying 'fuck' in front of my mum, or jumping off a wall that was too high. I teetered on the edge a few times but my brain wouldn't make my mouth form the correct shape and I ended up calling her 'Miss' instead. 'Tracy', she said, the first few times, but after a while she shook her head and gave up."
How the Trouble Started was an really addictive read. Even though I was a bit disappointed by how the story ended, the author did a terrific job on building suspense and engaging the reader. Donald was a terrific narrator and my heart went out to him throughout this well-done coming-of-age tale. This is a book that should appeal to both YA and adult readers. If you plan to read this one, you might want to avoid reading other reviews as I think several give out "too much information". Overall it's a very good story, try it.
Early on the reader is pulled into the story, anxious to find out what terrible event occurred in Bowlend Fells, when Donald Bailey was just eight years-old. We learn the "trouble" involved a little boy from the neighborhood who was just two years old at the time. The story is told by Donald, now 16, and bit by bit we learn about the turmoil that filled his young life, and what made him an odd-duck, an outcast among his peers. As a result of the constant taunts and cruel remarks Donald and his mother faced, she found it necessary for them to move to another town for a start fresh where no one will know either of them.
After the move, life does not magically become better in their new neighborhood. Lonely and conflicted over "the trouble" that has haunted them all these years, he spends much of his free time at the library after school. It is there that Donald befriends a young boy named Jake. A boy he tries look out for and protect as his mother is other away. Jake is half of Donald's age, and before long "trouble" has found Donald once again.