Today I am delighted to share with you a really special book on the blog, ‘Turtle Boy,’ by M. Evan Wolkenstein, a wonderful and thoughtful story inspired by the author’s real life experiences. Twelve year old Will thinks his life can’t get any worse. Mocked at school for how he looks and grieving for a father he can barely remember, he retreats into his shell hiding away from the world. But when he’s forced to do community service as part of his Bar Mitzvah preparations, Wilf meets RJ, a boy who spends his life confined to a hospital room. At first they struggle to connect but they soon find out they have something in common, they have hopes and wishes they haven’t shared with anyone else. Slowly they begin to help each other out and together they find a way to face the cards that life has dealt them.
I have so many feelings about this book that it’s hard to convey in a review. Will is a complex character who has been shaped by his life’s experiences and they are weighing heavy on his shoulders. The introduction of RJ into his life forces him to examine his own behaviour and helps him to realise how much of life he is missing out on by trying to protect himself. I think it’s important for children to realise that the impact unkind behaviour can have and how it can eat away at someone’s soul, so that it makes it impossible for them to be present in their world. What this story shows us that a life lived in fear and locked away is no life at all and sometimes the things we fear the most or not as bad as the demons we create in our heads. I found the relationship between Will and RJ completely compelling and beautiful, the small ways they find to connect and how they both manage to enhance their friend’s lives in the most unexpected of ways. We learn that we need to accept who we are and embrace our differences, rather than try to fit in with the crowd and be something we’re not. It definitely needs to be in every school library and I would actively encourage children to read it, books are a really important way to teach empathy and for me this is an important story that needs to be shared. Incredibly poignant and heart-breaking, this is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.
Thank you to Katarina and Usborne for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of this wonderful book. ‘Turtle Boy,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local indie bookshop.
As part of the blog tour I’d love to share my list of hopes and dreams. For those who have been following the blog you will know that I’d love to have my book published, oh and finally catch up with my review pile while sat staring out at the sea.
If you would like to share your list of hopes and dreams, leave a comment on the blog or head over to Twitter. Don’t forget the hashtag #TurtleBoyBook