01 August 2009

They told me I had to write this

by Kim Miller

Ford Street Publishing. Australian, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $17.95

Clem is a teenager who has been told to write a letter to his grandmother. Once Clem starts writing he can’t stop.

Clem is the boy that most parents don’t want to meet or know and most kids try to avoid. In his words he is “toxic”. We get to meet and understand Clem through his letters or notes to his grandmother. Clem is a boy whose problems started when he was born – he was blamed for the death of his mother. Then something bad happened to him when he was younger and his father won’t believe him. Now Clem is in a school for “toxic teenagers”.

The Rev, who is the Principal of the school, is a rev-head and a counsellor as well as a Reverend. Clem has sessions with the Rev each week and through these sessions and his letters to his grandmother, Clem starts to understand his life, his feelings and the feelings of others around him.

Then Clem meets a girl who thinks he is funny and isn’t scared of him. When one of Clem’s toxic mates dies, Clem’s relationship with his father changes and gradually his girlfriend, father and the Rev see Clem’s true self. He isn’t that toxic after all. They told me I had to write this is a story that unfortunately rings true in these current times. This book may help people perceive troubled teenagers differently. Maybe their backgrounds aren’t all sunny and rosy but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a bright future. They just need help.

A great read and a great story.


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