This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Boy A by Jonathan Trigell
MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2363673,790 (3.99)24

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 24 mentions

English (34)  Italian (2)  French (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
I have wanted to read this book for a long time. It was well written; there was nothing in the writing that made me feel uncomfortable or irritated. The story was interesting and had echoes of the story of two boys in the UK who abducted and killed a young child. I really felt for the main character - I wanted him to succeed in his new life. He had appeared to have moved on and that prison had done its job. It has provoked my thinking in relation to how I would feel about being close to an individual who had committed a really terrible crime in their youth but had since 'done their time' and become an adult. ( )
  Fluffyblue | Oct 12, 2017 |
Boy A participated in the commission of a heinous crime at the age of 9. Fifteen years later, he is released from custody, given a new identity, Jack Burridge, and sets about to build a life for himself.

He gets a job, makes friends, and gets a girlfriend. He keeps reassuring himself that he is 'normal,' but the tabloids, knowing only that he has been released, but not his identity or location, scream that the public deserves to know where he is.

The book raises interesting issues about crimes committed by children and about the role the media plays in crime and punishment. It is a very quick read. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Apr 25, 2017 |
This isn't a spoiler tag but a longwinded tag. (I'm embarrassed tag.)

Words are not my first emotional language. I'll think without words and later try to come up with some that fit what I was feeling, if enough of it sticks by me through the thickness and thinness. The way I understand (assuming I understand what I believe I understand) things is feeling out what people mean based on whatever I can get out of posture, tone, facial movements, eyes that don't smile, spaces between words and silences. (My social retardedness definitions. I can't be right 'cause I do the wrong thing a lot.) What is around them, what isn't. I'll want to match it with my own. Bittersweet smile? Heartbroken movement of lips with words unsaid? (It probably comes out of being shy. The watching is from hope that there's more to life.) Sometimes it is nothing I get and another part of my life disappears from me like one of those time eaters from Stephen King's The Langoliers (not even with their sharp teeth. It isn't important enough to be painful). Sometimes it'll later occur to me that something that happened before reminds me of something else (most of the time that something is movies, or built up stories I've made up to make my own surroundings feel more vivid and worth getting up for). What I really live for is to take a start of something I've watched, to feel I might have slipped inside some kind of ellipsis mental space of someone else, and shared something real and enhance further "experience". A posture that goes beyond what they are saying. "He looks nervous that something good might happen." "She feels like she's a kid again." Anything that's more than distanced strangers talk. I'm not going to know MOST people I'll encounter very well. That's one of the wonderful things about stories, the knowing. (Not to mention they give me the experience to understand how I might've felt some other time, let alone imagine how someone else felt. Not in the "We both knew that..." Kevin Arnold voice over Wonder Years way. He's a jerk. He didn't KNOW anything they knew. Just maybe...a hope? That something special happened. Maybe.)

There's a failing with me, I've been feeling. It's words with a real meaning. It is harder for me to get out of words what I feel drawn towards in people spaces. Words come last. What's the definition? I've said all this before, probably. The experience feels less like experience of my own if I don't feel like I was there to listen to something. I'm almost there, I can imagine it and then I try to imagine the faces in my mind and if they look happy or sad, which shade of it, how long did it last, was there regret... It doesn't feel alive like a twist in one way it wouldn't have happened. It's different when the writing feels like the words were born in their brain already and they didn't have dark search for them. (Nabokov is one of those. Elizabeth Bowen reads to me like a mind reader. There's talk about psychological novels? It's better than that. Mind reading novels that fit in the way that psych labels never could. Those feel homogenized.)

Sometimes I feel like everything I "know" is forgotten like the times you can't remember your own phone number and the harder you try to get it back the further away it gets.

I don't know which one Boy A fits into. Jack spends all his brain trying to live as if one moment (a murder) happens forever and he's a kid forever. He's not a kid forever. It didn't happen forever. Where's the space that's your own brain and no one else can ever take it away from you? It is lost in different ways. In the eyes of everyone who didn't believe he could be anyone else (in freaking hindsight!). There are words (It didn't do it. That wasn't me) and there are words that should be ignored (This is all I'll ever be) and listen to the dark searching for who he is (There isn't only darkness inside a person). Possibilities? What about hope? What about that...

Anyway, it's a weird space of no thought and trying to convince, which feels to me like too much thinking, when inside the irises of those who don't not feel around in the dark in a way that feels natural to me.

The 2007 film Boy A is one of my favorites. I saw it before I read the novel. The film is one of the most faithful adaptations I've seen. Many of the events are the same. It's different like walking into the same room with lights on or off. (The film has more flashbacks to childhood than the book. The film doesn't have the scenes of Jack's time in prison.) What I read off of Jack in words and off of Jack of flesh (played by Andrew Garfield in the film) was different. Jack of the book is words spoken by people in his life and past. Often words spoken by people who did not see him at all. Jack was afraid to be seen even as he was desperate to be seen. If I were in that room I would have been looking for that. I wouldn't have been looking to see if I could write someone off or not.

It was a suspended feeling for me to try and see past those visions to something I could believe. Is it my failing and I don't get how others see other people? Stories are all from different eyes and yet I felt like this time it was less my eyes. Maybe I'm weird. The film felt like reading Jack from Andrew Garfield. His shame to continue living and the desire that might beat past that to live anyway. The potential for violence (that had happened, tragically killing himself as he helped kill someone else. When he was a kid) that is dormant, what happens to bring out that side of him, how it might have happened differently if something else had happened differently. People are capable of all sorts of things. The people who were out for blood to kill Jack, like they were the law themselves, were no less violent than he (who did not set out to kill anyone that morning). If people are capable of anything, they are capable of anything. Do they get to say that when something bad happens and never for the good? His struggle to live with the guilt and shame, make a new life... It was in every afraid to raise his voice word that Garfield spoke as Jack. His afraid to be happy smiles. Grateful for anything good at all.

(There's a discussion questionnaire in the back of the book that is good. I liked the one about why kid killers are considered to be more evil than adult killers.)

The book showed Jack through different eyes. Jack's clinginess towards Terry. He loves him, maybe he needs him more. What if he had had that love sooner in his life? Is it need only? It is written that he feels guilty that Terry spends more time with Jack than he does with his son, Zeb. It was written... yet that was all I could see. Terry feels it is okay to like Jack more when someone else he likes (Jack's new landlady) also seems to like Jack (she does not know who he really is). It was more telling to me that he does not talk about his part in the killing, of how he fears losing Terry, than it did when it is stated how he feels. The unsaid says more to me because it feels it is there to see, weighting words. Son Zeb feels that Jack stole his father (in reality, he himself chose not to see his dad, blaming his parents divorce on his dad's work with inmates he tried to help adjust to life outside). The pride Terry feels in how far Jack has come shows in the eyes on the screen, in how he puts his arm on his shoulder. Zeb must hear it in his dad's voice and wonder how a murderer could ever do anything to be proud of. He cannot forgive something that happened years ago (a divorce). How could he ever understand that a whole life isn't made up of one event?
It wouldn't have occured to me to read fear in Terry of getting too close because of who Jack was. Because the media whips up frenzy over new cases? Adults killing kids would be old (unless they were blonde and pretty). How was he any different than any other inmate Terry would have worked with? Terry who says that he is a new man now. Says, says, says. I need to look into the eyes and see which is true. Film Terry I believe had hope that he was a new man.

Jack of the book is rooted in a rootless way to the childhood he didn't have. His childhood before the murder, before prison. A childhood of disgusted neglect at home, brutal neglect at school. Bullies and fear and unforgivingness. No one would stand up for him and say that they didn't see it coming all along. Boy A ceases to have a name (in the film he is Eric). He's the killer of the little girl, loved by all who did not know her when she was alive. (If Boy B had been born several months earlier, Boy A would have taken all of the blame himself.) As if they didn't purposely not see him at all. After the murder, well, he grows up in prison. Boy A's prison therapist notes that he is childish for someone of his age (when he is seventeen). He tells her what she wants to hear (that he killed the girl as much as Boy B did) so that he will be allowed to continue seeing his case worker, Terry. This is what we want you to know, right? The eyes of a note taking shrink desperately desirous of awards were not ones I would have chosen. I believed he was childish when Jack reacts to his situations as if he had no experience in which to judge anything by. He has the fear of letting on that he has no experience.

Jack feels he is not allowed to live past what had happened to him before because he does not deserve it. The hesitation, a hopeful look, closed mouth again. If he could admit to his new friends, especially his new girlfriend, who he was... Is lying about who he is another crime, another betrayal of trust? The happiest time he has ever known. Is it a lie because they don't really know him? After he is exposed and the wrath of England is upon him once more, Jack leaves Chris a message imploring him that it was really him all along, as if a plea for it to be true, to be seen as something else than a child murderer. I felt the plea in the words. It wasn't what was true because it couldn't be the truth or untruth. He was Boy A. He was also Jack who saved a little girl from a car wreck with his workmate Chris. A guy who wanted to be someone. Future...

Terry was wrong that he could just be a new man. I think the whole point was that one man isn't one thing only. The point of the film was also a message to England who go blood crazy and want to hang and imprison for life, regardless of sentences and time served. Vigilante justice. People there have had to hide for being falsely accused of being killers by the media. I know that's the point too (not one that goes over very well, if hatred for Samantha Morton playing Myra Hindley in Longford tv movie was any indication. That was about the lawyer fighting to get her released when she was kept past her sentence. I'm sure Garfield got some hatin' too. I'm sure Trigell got some hating!). Quotes on the book jacket talk about Trigell building sympathy for Boy A, maybe as if it were a magician's trick and Jack wouldn't have deserved it otherwise. I think the point is paying attention to people and trying to listen enough to find out why people do anything. If anyone had cared that Boy A was beaten up on, or that Boy B was raped by his brother, that the two never went to school anymore. That they gave themselves up to abandon because that was the only time they felt free. But people don't want to think about why pitt bulls who are trained for violence attack kids either. They'd rather put down the dog and ban them from city limits. They were written off as dogs. There was potential for good as well as violence in Jack.

I pay attention better by watching than by what people say. If I hadn't seen the film I might have seen Jack as a young man who thought more about what other people thought of him than as a man who was afraid to live with himself as he truly was, if he wasn't capable of being more than he had been.

Do actions speak louder than words? (It depends on what kinds of words and how they are spoken.) True spoiler ahead

Jack kills himself in the end. What speaks the loudest? Did he die because he was afraid to live with people once they knew what he had been? That the words that would always be the loudest were those?

What would his eyes have said? Did he reconsider right after he jumped? (What life flashed before his life? That might tell him once and for all what he decided his own life was.) Or did he hope that someone understood?

I would want to understand... I would want to read and hope for hope.

Stats are a dangerous thing. I hate seeing stats and end results and those words. ( )
  marswins | Jul 10, 2016 |
Harrowing. Heartbreaking. Fabulously discussion-worthy. All these are apt ways to describe Jonathan Trigell’s lightning bolt to the nervous system, ‘Boy A.’ It would be pretty accurate to say I loved this book, and even when I hated it, I loved it, because I realized when it was making me edgy and mad it was actually making me think. You don’t have to agree with it’s political viewpoint, but you will have to allow your beliefs and preconceptions to be challenged for the sake of the experience.

Jack is not an orphan, but he might as well be. After years locked away for a ghastly childhood crime, Jack has been reintroduced to society under a different identity, hiding from the media and potential acts of vigilantism. Jack’s Liberal social worker, Terry, believes he is essentially good. But can Jack really start his life over? Can he fall in love? Does he deserve to be given a second chance, considering what he did to another life?

Throughout the book Jack is portrayed to be a bit childlike and naïve, without coming off a saccharine or eye-rollingly idiotic. His romance with Michelle, a more experienced young woman, is touching and real. Finally a love interest with more reason for being than simply saving a troubled young man from himself. Michelle is not a manic pixie dream girl. She reminds me of the character from “Silver Linings Playbook” (the movie.) She’s made up of parts- strength, shrewdness, vulnerability. And she likes all those bits, even the dirty ones.

‘Boy A’, above all, a meditation on growing up, the possibility and unpredictability of change, and the horrors of living under the scrutinizing eye of the media. The writing is incisive and laden with layers of meaning. The ending is bleak, but also leaves us to contemplate how such a pay-off could’ve been avoided.

The only thing I really didn’t like about this book is the snide judgment with which the author portrays Angela, the victim of Jack’s adolescent crime. Angela is ten, but the author seems to treat her as responsible beyond her years, while the blame is displaced from Jack and his unnamed, delinquent friend. Once a bitch, always a bitch, the novel seems to say, which really didn’t sit well with me. I think less time could be spent on portraying Angela as a spoiled princess that ‘bad things just didn’t happen to’ and more time showing the grief of her family at such a senseless crime should have been incorporated. While focusing almost entirely on Jack’s pain is novel, it also seems kind of inappropriate considering the subject matter.

Although I found that aspect of ‘Boy A’ somewhat reprehensible, the rest of the book was so beautifully written and psychologically complex that I cannot help writing a glowing review. The shifting perspectives (though fully grounded in third-person) give a darker, deeper look into the events that make up the book’s chapters. I also highly recommend the film adaptation with Andrew Garfield. Garfield gives a beautifully realized portrayal of Jack, and the most important aspects of the book are retained in the film version. Happy reading! ( )
  filmbuff1994 | Jun 11, 2015 |
Jack at twenty four years old has just been released from prison, he is in the company of Terry, his long assigned care officer, ahead he has a new life invented for him; only the name Jack did he choose for himself. But can he make a success of it? He has grown up in juvenile institutions having committee as a child, along with an accomplice, an horrendous crime. All seems to go well, he has work, makes good friends, even a girlfriend who loves him; yet he finds it a struggle to live as this invented person, and of course there are those, including the tabloid press, who cannot forget what happened in the past.

By introducing us to Jack as a young man before we know the extent of his crime, it is easy to accept him without judgement, and he comes across as a friendly, slightly naïve, but very likeable young guy. As we learn more about his unhappy upbringing, for we jump back and forth in time chapter by chapter, we are even more endeared to him. Having so endeared Jack to us, what subsequently transpires is all the more involving, for our heart goes out to the youngster and especially when everything appears to be falling apart for him.

The other characters are well drawn and very believable, including Terry, his devoted carer, his fun loving friends and workmates, and his attractive and slightly voluptuous girlfriend.

Jonathan Trigell writes eminently readable prose which captures just the right intimate mood. It is a thought provoking, cleverly yet subtly constructed story, with a touch of irony, and great humanity. Boy A is heart rending tale that could as easily be fact as fiction, and all the more moving for that. ( )
  presto | Apr 24, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Jack is an institutionalised young man, utterly innocent to the world, yet guilty of a monstrous childhood crime. This novel captures Jack's bewilderment and exhilaration as he approaches adulthood in his new world and the effect on him and those around him of media manipulated hysteria.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Jonathan Trigell's book Boy A was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Sign up to get a pre-publication copy in exchange for a review.

LibraryThing Author

Jonathan Trigell is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.99)
1.5 1
2 4
2.5 1
3 10
3.5 16
4 30
4.5 8
5 25


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 135,614,087 books! | Top bar: Always visible