The Boy in the Smoke


How can Isaiah help Jacob? It seems he’s the only one who can see him through the flames in the basement. Jacob’s in the past, in Industrial Revolution Britain, held captive it seems, in a Shepten workhouse ,unravelling oakum rope, desperate to find his father. Meanwhile, Isaiah’s in modern day Shepten, avoiding the school’s counsellor, and working hard to support his disabled father. He’s juggling a lot through every day and trying to brave out his struggles, but it’s tough. What’s more, a priority is to find what’s happened to Jacob’s father…

Could an opportunity to present Shepten history provide Jacob with any clues, and then prize money to keep the landlord at bay? Thereafter, what about the opportunity to create a website that offers another way of earning money? Then again, how can he keep his family situation out of Mrs Morris’ gaze, and the attention of his friends? It seems they can afford school trainers, while he has to ink out patterns to hide the holes.

Isaiah’s determined optimism and courage inspire us. We urge him on, look for leads as he researches, and hope that his friends will realise his sacrifice and effort. Altogether, The Boy in the Smoke is a really moving, purposeful, urgent and relevant novel. Through drawing comparisons from the long ago to real life Britain today, we are brought up short, made to feel and understand, while enjoying such a wonderful novel. Bookwagon loves and recommends The Boy in the Smoke. 


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The Boy in the Smoke

Rachel Faturoti


Jacob’s The Boy in the Smoke, or rather the ‘young man’ whom Isaiah encounters in the basement of his block of flats. Jacob’s abandoned in a workhouse past, struggling against Mr Moore’s oppressive regime that forces the inmates into untangling oakum rope. What’s more, he’s trying to find his father from whom he’s been separated. However, Jacob’s in a time to which only Isaiah can connect.
Then again, Isaiah’s facing his own struggles. It seems that he supports his disabled father, helping him face down eviction threats and claim support. What’s more, there’s school, which offers Isaiah friendship and hope, alongside a route to helping Jacob and then to winning prize money. There’s also a chance to build a website that could help Isaiah earn money too.
Rachel Faturoti writes stories that grip readers and inform us too. What’s more, Isaiah’s situation is real; it’s just as he describes on stage during his presentation with Kesia. It means that we’re completely involved in his situation, caring for him from afar, rather like his mother does. Then again, we admire his determination and courage. Like this writer’s Sadé and Her Shadow Beasts, The Boy in the Smoke is a title for mature, thoughtful, emotionally literate readers. Bookwagon loves this book and recommends it highly.


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