Many years ago, my niece announced that Jasper Jones was her all-time favourite book, and so I quickly set about getting hold of a copy. Like her, I found it to be a compelling, touching and thought-provoking book.
Ten years later, another compelling, touching and heart-warming book by Craig Silvey emerged – Honeybee. The mullet and garish colours which adorn the cover made me think twice about picking it up, but I needn’t have worried. Silvey’s trademark skill in storytelling did not disappoint.
The opening chapter’s title is The End. In reality, this probably would have been the end for Sam Watson, the trans teen who had given up on life. At 14, Sam was already defined by disillusionment and heartbreak, and these feelings of isolation, loneliness and abandonment rang true. Thankfully, the chance encounter with Vic steered Sam’s life in a completely different direction.
Through the roller-coaster that followed, Sam’s longing for approval and acceptance placed them in situations that ranged from embarrassing to dangerous. Kindness appeared in unexpected places, but fear was constant, resulting in a gripping read with carefully placed moments of levity.
While often referred to as a coming-of-age story, Honeybee is more a reflection of the coming-of-age-of-society. It is unusual for trans characters to take centre stage in a mainstream book, and it is only in recent years that broader society has begun the long journey of acceptance. In the meantime, there are countless Sam Watsons trying to make sense of their place in the world, even if not always in quite as a dramatic fashion.
I found this to be an incredibly moving book, and adored the character of Sam Watson who had such a big heart cloaked beneath shame and vulnerability. Despite the overwhelming sadness I felt by their predicament, I also found this to be a life-affirming novel, a reminder that small acts of kindness can change a person’s world.
Please find here an assorted mix of what I tend to read - new books, old books, birthday gifts, gifts to myself, books from my to-be-read pile, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs - basically a weird assortment of goodies! My comments here are simply thought-bubbles, rather than formal book reviews. Stream of consciousness. Please share your comments and connect. I love a reading community!