What I Did by Christopher Wakling

Friday, July 27, 2012

Title: What I Did
Author: Christopher Wakling
Pages: 282
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: July 17, 2012

What I Did is a story narrated by six-year-old Billy about the long term consequences of his impulsive decision to run from his father into the street. His father reacts as many parents would, out of fear, but it becomes blown into a much larger issue -- one that is further muddled by the skewed perception of a child and the misunderstandings of the involved adults as Billy's father is accused of hurting him.

Though the story itself moves fairly slowly, some readers may still find it riveting to a degree to find out what happens and how far everything goes. I should know better, though, to sometimes stay away from stories about this topic because with my experience working in child welfare I become very critical of the story and characters and whether or not I think it's realistic. And since I worked as a forensic interviewer for a few years, trained in interviewing children and obtaining accurate details, I find it insulting that the miscommunications that occur in this book would actually happen. I suppose it's possible, but I end up thinking too much about those kinds of details in the book that sometimes it takes away from the rest of it for me.

So, that is one downside I get that wasn't completely the book's fault. But I had two other gripes that made reading this very difficult for me. First was the lack of chapter breaks and the dialogue being separated often just by a dash. The second thing was Billy's voice, unfortunately. I've really enjoyed some other books written from a young child's perspective (Room, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close), but the way it was done in this book made the reading frustrating and stagnant at times. Billy would be telling the story of what was happening around him and it would lead to some tangential thought that he would elaborate on for a while before getting back to what was happening so by the end of an entire paragraph nothing had actually happened. In the aforementioned books, there was a lot of forward momentum and more clear storytelling that infused the naivete of the characters whereas in What I Did the story was more focused on the minutiae of Billy's thoughts and perceptions.

I've focused on what was negative for me mainly because it made this a difficult read for me. But if you have the time and patience, Billy's thoughts and perceptions are interesting in and of themselves. It just didn't work for me in pacing the entire novel.

I reviewed this as part of TLC Book Tours. Follow the rest of the tour below:

Friday, July 19th: What She Read …
Monday, July 23rd: A Worn Path
Tuesday, July 24th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Friday, July 27th: Take Me Away
Tuesday, July 31st: In the Next Room
Wednesday, August 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, August 2nd: Little Bit of Wonderful
Thursday, August 2nd: Book Reviews, Fiction Reflections, ‘N More!
Wednesday, August 8th: the state that i am in
Tuesday, August 21st: Kritters Ramblings


Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Thanks for your honest review. :)

Zibilee said...

If the narrator is meandering and never really gets to his points clearly, that would probably irritate me. I also like books to be accurate, but not having the background that you do, this probably wouldn't be all that much of an issue for me. Still, I think I might steer clear of this one. It just sounds sort of all over the place.

heathertlc said...

Thanks for taking the time to read and review this book for the tour.

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