A boy runs across a busy road. His father smacks him. A passer-by intervenes ...When Billy Wright runs across a busy road, his world is altered irreversibly, even though he doesn't realise it at the time. Because a passer-by has stopped to watch the scene. She has seen Billy's father catch up with him and smack him.
Within an hour she has informed social services, plunging the family into a living nightmare which begins with a social worker's visit and escalates through a series of misunderstandings until the family is threatened to its core.
What I Did is a powerful novel about the unseen consequences of a split second decision, about a childhood interrupted and the lengths we go to to protect the ones we love.
It is frequently heartbreaking, blackly funny, and utterly compelling.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: John Murray General Publishing Division
- Publication Date: 04/08/2011
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781848546165
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by nicx27
Billy Wright is six years old and spends a lot of time with his dad, whilst his mum is out at work. One day, whilst out for a walk, Billy nearly runs into the road and his dad smacks him hard on his bottom several times. A passer by sees this and reports Jim, Billy's dad, to Social Services. They swoop in very quickly and Jim becomes very defensive about his actions. He loves Billy immensely, and this is clear to the reader, but he doesn't help himself.The story is told by Billy, and I veered between finding it a quite endearing narrative and just being plain irritated by it. He gets a lot of words muddled up and this is sometimes funny and sometimes a little annoying. I did find it quite hard to get into Billy's style and it was a bit wearing for a while, but once I got into it more I found it much easier. I do wonder if it would have helped if we could have had an adult's viewpoint every now and then, to break it up a bit. Billy is a sweet character, totally unaware of the fact that some of the things he says are having an unfortunate effect on his family.I'm not sure six year olds are quite as clever as Billy, but I think he needed to be quite sharp to be able to tell the story effectively. I found this a reasonable read, and it's a very interesting idea, but it didn't totally work for me and I think it's because Billy's voice was a little bit much for the whole of the book.
Review by teresa1953
Six year old Billy Wright has a story to tell and it had me completely hooked from the first sentence. “This is the first bit and shall I tell you why? Okay I will. It is to make you read the rest.” Billy is a very bright little boy who loves nature documentaries and adores his parents. One fateful day, he runs away from his father at the park and refuses to come back when he is called. His father catches up with him when he has run across a dangerously busy road. Full of anger, he smacks Billy hard…an act he will live to regret. A woman passing by witnesses the event, follows them home and contacts Social Services. The consequences are grave and things go from bad to worse, casting the whole family adrift in the wake of “politically correct” intervention. But it is Billy who captures the reader’s heart. He is a lovable and endearing little character. Clever beyond his years, he relates the tale of what he did……in his own words. Words that are not always correct, but his renditions had me howling with laughter.“Dad speaks to Mum like he did to the man who came to mend the dishwasher. He was from Pole Land. North Pole Land, I expect, since nobody lives in Antarctica except emperor penguins, leopard seals and occasionally, David Attenborough, wearing a huge fur-hooded coat, because it is so in hospital there.”On building a model stealth bomber……”I tell Grandma how it can hold a new clear bomb with awesome powers of distraction.”Though the subject matter is disturbing, it is Billy himself who makes this such a remarkable story. One that lives in the memory long after you have finished reading. I would go as far as to say that it is the finest book I have read this year. I highly recommended it..This book was made available to me, prior to publication, for an honest review