Sunday 8 April 2018

A Troublesome Boy

Finished March 28
A Troublesome Boy by Paul Vasey

This book follows the young Teddy Clemson as he is sent to a distant boarding school/reform school after a letter home about him being "troublesome." Teddy's parents have separated and his father isn't present in his life. Instead, his mother's new husband has been making the decisions about Teddy's future and, since he doesn't like Teddy, sending him away suits him well.
Teddy's new school is St. Ignatius Academy for Boys, knows as St. Iggy's. It is in northern Ontario, near the town of Belleview, and is run by Catholic priests and monks. When Teddy gets off the bus in Belleview, he is hungry and first heads to the diner he sees, where he is greeted in a friendly manner by Rita and Freddy. After his mean, he follows their directions to the school.
He is met by Father Stewart, the principal, who goes over a few things before having Brother Wilbur take him up to his dorm room. As the next few days pass, Teddy gets to know who the other teachers at the school are. They include Father Prince, a man who makes the boys nervous; Brother Joe, who sleeps outdoors most of the time and likes nature; and Father Sullivan, who seems to have quite a temper.
Teddy also gets to know the other boys, and becomes friends with another new boy, Tim Cooper, who has spent most of his life in foster care.
One gets the sense right away that this school isn't a happy place to be. When Teddy is shown a "time out room," a room with no lights or windows, a single straight chair and no handle on the inside of the door, he begins to understand the nature of the school. Even the boys who are not Catholic have to attend chapel in the mornings before breakfast, and their is a worse punishment room than the time out rooms, a place referred to as the dungeon.
The callous disrespect for basic human kindness, and the anger, violence, and abuse that many of the teachers perpetuate is one familiar to those of us who've read about residential schools.
The author, Vasey, survived a school similar to this one, and that experience served as an inspiration for this story.

No comments:

Post a Comment