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The Bonny Lad by Jonathan Tulloch - Book Review


The Bonny Lad
Jonathan Tulloch

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

A brilliant novel by the author of The Season Ticket, winner of the Betty Trask Prize and filmed by Mark Herman as Purely Belter.

Sonny Gee is six years old when his mother abandons him. He is taken in by his grandfather, Joe, a man he's never met, a former miner, grim and taciturn. Forced together and immediately locked in conflict, an inarticulate tenderness develops between the old man and the boy. For both of them, however, this new relationship is increasingly threatened by forces from the past.

Set in Gateshead over the course of a spring, with humour and poignancy The Bonny Lad celebrates the redemptive power of love without flinching from counting its cost.

We Say

Children are amazing creatures. For those who love children, no explanation is necessary and for those who do not care for children, there is often that one child that proves that not all children are distasteful. What is perhaps the most endearing and exasperating quality about children is their unpredictability. Ironically, the most unpredictable children are those who are very bright. The trouble begins when bright children are left largely to their own devices. The combination of poor supervision and brilliance in a child is a deadly combination and many an adult is left shaking their heads at the lost potential of such children. Jonathan Tulloch examines such a child and this child's affect on his unhappy grandfather in his book, The Bonny Lad.

Sonny Gee is a very bright and active young man who has had little or no supervision. From all appearances, he seems to be a 'bonny lad' but for those that know him well, they also know of his propensity for trouble. Underneath the dirt, grime, foul mouth and general lack of manners is a young man who longs for love. His mother has gotten involved with drugs (and a drug dealer) and has made poor attempts to properly bring up her child. Unable to control him and unable to find anyone who will watch him, she turns to her last hope. It is perhaps the single most important decision that she makes for the well-being of her child.

Joe O'Brien is determined to lead a lonely existence shutting out the world and all of its disappointments. Forced to be the caretaker for a grandson he didn't know existed, Joe finds his heart begin to warm despite Sonny Gee's uncontrollable behaviour. Initially, Joe is insistent that Sonny Gee is not his grandson and treats Sonny Gee as a temporary nuisance. As Joe struggles to teach his grandson basic manners, an endearing relationship between the two begins to evolve.

Sometimes, when we try to save another we end up saving ourselves. Jonathan Tulloch does an excellent job telling the story of Sonny Gee and his Grandfather Joe. Heartwarming and at times heartbreaking, The Bonny Lad is a wonderful tale of hope. Occasionally, just when we think we are unable to contribute to another's well-being, we are proven wrong. Even though Joe believes his life is over, through Sonny Gee, that life is just beginning. At a time when there has been enough tragedy in our world, The Bonny Lad is an engaging book that keeps the reader interested. Clever dialogue and wonderful characters make this a novel well worth reading. Congratulations to Jonathan Tulloch for writing a clever story that is well worth reading.

Review by: Yumi Nagasaki-Taylor

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