The Second- Hand Boy


Who is James? He seems like an earlier reader of Tom’s Midnight Garden, the second hand book that Billy discovers. It’s been left for him to read by his Mum. Somehow she considers it might be a comfort to him with the loss of Marty. Billy and Marty were inseparable, ‘Space Rat’ and ‘Reptile Freak’, but now it’s all ended. Marty’s gone. Billy will have to face Archie and his goons alone. What’s more, they’ll be looking for him.

It seems that Billy’s invisible in many instances, especially in school to teachers like Mr Molyneaux. Then there’s Mr Clarke with his fluffy eyebrows, and the wonderful, space inspiring Mrs Simmons. Yet how could they know the inner turmoil of Billy, that he’s Mum to worry about, her ‘sensitive soul‘, fragile to the slightest upheaval, including the loss of Marty’s mother’s friendship. Isn’t it all up to Billy?

What if James could offer adventure, fun and friendship? Then again, what if Billy’s the only one who can see and hear James and somehow James becomes a nagging, dangerous thrum that seeks to distract Billy from the steps he’s making toward life without Marty? Space club? A new friendship?

Bookwagon is over the moon with The Second- Hand Boy. What an outstanding, inspiring, insightful and wonderful upper middle grade/ older novel. We recommend this book unequivocally to any emotionally aware, curious and insightful reader.

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The Second- Hand Boy

Jennifer Lane

(UCLan Publishing) 

When Marty leaves, Billy cannot show how upset he feels. Although everyone knows that this separation is tough on him, he’s determined to bear up, suffer in silence, especially in front of Mum. After all, doesn’t he know how fragile and alone Mum is? Isn’t he the one who helps her face the day so often? It seems to be, as Mrs Dunbald at the farm says, that Mum’s a ‘sensitive soul’. 
In fact, Marty’s postcards with their familiar tone don’t really help Billy cope. However, might Mum’s old copy of Tom’s Midnight Garden? It’s a distraction. Then again, what if this second hand book becomes something more? What if the previous owner, whose notes amuse Billy slightly, suddenly becomes real to him? Furthermore, what if this James begins bearing down on Billy so that the steps he takes to move on from Marty are faltering?
The Second- Hand Boy is magnificent and unexpected. This Bookwagon reader this title in one gulp, rather like How to Be More Hedgehog. Not only do we need Billy to find his feet, for support to be there for this little unit, but we long for his questions to be heard as in Space Club. We are completely immersed in this story. Bookwagon recommends The Second- Hand Boy hugely to all emotionally intelligent middle grade and older readers.


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