A boy that floats. That’s not normal!
That’s the premise of John Boyne’s newest book, The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket. According Barnaby Brocket’s parents, being “normal” means not drawing any attention to yourself, it means following the rules, but most importantly (in the Brocket family) it means not floating.
But try as he might, Barnaby can’t seem to keep his feet on the ground. His parents line their ceilings with mattresses, walk Barnaby with a leash and enroll him at a special school.
Barnaby’s parents, Eleanor and Alistair beg and plead with Barnaby to stop kidding around and just walk like all the other young boys, but he can’t seem to do it. Therefore, they’re forced to take matters into their own hands and as the title of the book suggests, something absolutely terrible takes place.
This terrible thing requires Barnaby to have to fend for himself for the first time ever, there are no mattresses to “catch” him, there is no lease to hold him back, he’s forced to embrace his ability to float. Being set off on his own gives him an opportunity to travel the world and meet people from all over the world (he even travels to Toronto!) Let’s just say, a closing Sky Done (or er, Rogers Centre) and a floating boy aren’t a good combination.
I’ve always been a fan of John Boyne’s work, especially after reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (it had the most shocking ending I’ve ever read). His novels have an underlying message in them, a silver lining if you will and the silver lining in this beautiful new novel is that, being different should be celebrated, not ridiculed.
A great piece of work from an author that continues to impress me with every novel he’s ever written. Pick this one up this New Year, you will not be disappointed.