BOOK CLUB: An Unusual Boy

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[Total: 3 Average: 4.7]

Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Boldwood Books for the opportunity to read An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins. My advice to you when you start reading this book is to make sure you have set aside the whole day…as you will not want to put this book down!

The Curtis family consists of Mum Julia, Dad Andy, Milla 14, Jackson 11 and Ruby 9.

Jackson is their “unusual” boy.

The story is told with Julia and Jackson narrating alternate chapters. It is brilliantly done, as we know the truth about what has happened, but live through Julia’s confusion, disbelief and panic.

Jackson has spent 8 of his 11 years visiting medical specialists in search of a diagnosis. The current term used is “Neurodiversity” a word used to describe children who don’t conform to a conventional diagnostic category. We see and live through Jackson’s eyes and thoughts just how confusing the world is to him. How hard he tries to follow the 5 family rules.

Julia is a loving mother balancing her family, her job, and marriage. Andy is often absent, his job takes him overseas. Milla has her first boyfriend and Ruby is fashion conscious. Julia’s parents have recently passed away, she feels very alone. She does everything she can do to support Jackson with his unusual and sometimes challenging behaviours. As his specialist has said to her….she needs to focus on the one thing she can control and that is her response to Jackson’s behaviours.

Life is tough for every member of this family and it is about to get a whole lot tougher! The worst thing imaginable happens. There is an incident at school, and the police are called. Jackson is implicated and he is not allowed to return to school. 

You will laugh, cry, get angry and want to reach into the book to give Julia and Jackson supporting hugs. There are wonderful characters that surround them. Milla, her boyfriend and Ruby, and Miss Marion the dance teacher are fantastic.  

The quote of the book goes to Pamela, her mother in law,

 “Normal doesn’t exist, Its just a cycle on the washing machine!”

Then there are characters who take advantage of Jackson, and some, who consider their jobs, should have taken the time to understand him. It is a riveting and poignant story of this relatable and likable families search for the truth.

It is a thought-provoking book, which has extended my understanding and empathy to all the families with their own “unusual” child who sits somewhere on the autism spectrum.

A brilliant read. 5 out of 5 stars, actually I would like to give it 6!! Now that I have discovered Fiona Higgins, I am on a mission to read all of her books!

ISBN: 9781800485426

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins. You can read their reviews below, or add your own.

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: An Unusual Boy

  1. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Boldwood Books for the opportunity to read An Unusual Boy.

    This was the first book I have read by Fiona Higgins and I absolutely loved it! I was hooked from the first page and could not put it down.

    Thank you Fiona for sharing your An Unusual Boy, definitely a book I would read over and over!

  2. Wow this book! It has happy, it has sad it has parts that make your blood boil. But what I loved was it was so real. Im a huge believer in the phrase “what is normal?” So I absolutely loved this book snd everything it stands for. Thankyou beauty and lace and bold wood books for the opportunity to read.

  3. This is a beautiful book that shows exactly how one event can turn your world upside down.
    Jackson is an unusual boy in this book of the same name. I often say that normal is overrated. This book epitomizes this.
    The Curtis family are an average family busy with life, work, school and the usual challenges. One event threatens to change everything.
    Fiona Higgins writing style means that you feel as if you know this family from the get go. She alternates chapters from Julia and Jackson. This adds a great dynamic to the story. What comes through the most though is the raw humanity of the characters
    I had a couple of late nights reading this and absolutely loved it. Many thanks to Beauty and Lace and Boldwood Books for this opportunity. A book I would highly recommend

  4. An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins
    Wow! What a beautiful book! 5 Stars from me!!!
    This book is told from the point of view of Julia and her 11 year old son Jackson, alternating each chapter.
    Julia is a busy working Mother of 3 kids with a Husband who spends more time away for work than he does at home.
    Milla, 14 is a lovely sensible girl and Ruby, 9 is flamboyant and colourful. Jackson has alway been different(unusual) but despite many specialist visits and reviews from psychologists has never been officially diagnosed with anything other than Neurodiverse. The way he describes his feelings and thoughts give a wonderful insight in to what life is like for him.
    Julia does her best to understand and help Jackson but doesn’t ever fully understand how to do that. Jackson’s Father, Andy isn’t very helpful either as he is away a lot and when he is home gets very frustrated and angry with Jackson.
    Julia’s Mother in law, Pam tries to help with the kids where she can but always seems a bit overbearing and judgmental to Julia.
    Two of my favourite characters in the book(apart from Jackson) would have to be Riley, Milla’s new boyfriend who is such a lovely boy, always offering to help and engaging with Jackson and always bringing flowers for Milla or Julia. The other is Miss Marion, the school Dance Teacher who takes Jackson under her wing, teaching him skills as well as making him feel as though he really belongs in their group.
    Things are starting to look up for Jackson until one day there is an incident at school. Jackson is caught up in a terrible situation. It is very interesting to read these chapters from Jackson’s point of view where we know what actually happened and how his ‘unusual’ behaviors make it so difficult for him to articulate but also from Julia’s point of view.
    This is such a beautiful book and I would highly recommend it to anyone!
    Thanks so much to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this one.

  5. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I was a bit unsure at first thinking I would not enjoy it but I was very wrong.
    Jackson is a great kid with a loving family. I think his dad was disappointed to have a son with problems but he came around in the end. His mum is fraught with worry about what to do for the best.
    It was a great story and makes me realise that no one is really “normal ” whatever that may be.

  6. What a great read, I’m a big fan of Fiona Higgins and this book did not disappoint.

    I loved that the story was told by both the mother and the son and I found this gave a great insight into both perspectives.

    The story really got to me at times and as a mother it really made me think.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Boldwood Books for the opportunity to read An Unusual Boy.

  7. An Unusual Boy is told from two points of view, Jackson an 11-year-old boy and his mother. Jackson is labelled as neurodiverse. He is not easily understood by his peers but befriends another student from his soccer team. Being that he has difficulty with social skills, a situation arises, and a cascade of events follow.

    While the build up was slow, the story became rapidly captivating. Being a mother of children with extra needs I found this book scarily relevant confronting some of the vulnerabilities of children.

    I am keen to add Fiona Higgins other novels to my reading list. Happy to recommend and thank you Beauty and Lace and Boldwood Books for the reading and reviewing opportunity.

  8. Thanks to Boldwood Books and Beauty and Lace Book Club for the opportunity to read and review An Unusual Boy, by Fiona Higgins.

    This is the first book by Higgins I have read, and I was impressed with her writing style, flipping between mum Julia, trying to deal with three children, a more often than not absent husband, and with one of the children, 11 year old Jackson, clearly on the Autism Spectrum although it is never specifically identified.

    Jackson is labelled an unusual and challenging child because he demonstrates some very different behaviours and at times responds in a very aggressive manner. Julia is doing her best with one teenage daughter, one on the cusp of being a tween, Jackson and her husband who is away a lot and doesn’t seem to be able to understand how to respond to Jackson when he is home.

    Like many children on the spectrum, Jackson has difficulties socially and so when he starts playing soccer and makes friends with another boy Julia is thrilled. She’s also please that Jackson’s soccer coach is so supportive and seems to understand how difficult it is with her husband away so often.

    What Jackson really wants, but doesn’t know how to discuss with his parents, is to be involved with the school dance, including working on the silks, which fits with his love of climbing and hanging upside down. His dance teacher believes that his parents are aware as she has the signed permission slip from them agreeing for him to be involved.

    Then there’s Pam, Julia’s mother-in-law who always makes Julia feel like she just isn’t good enough for her son, but seems to enjoy spending time with her grandchildren, and Riley the oldest daughter Milla’s new boyfriend, a lovely mature young man.

    Everyone seems pleased that Jackson finally has a friend, but an incident at the friend’s house leaves Jackson distressed, and yet unable, given his communication difficulties, to explain his discomfiture to his mum.

    Then Jackson is caught up in an event at school which results in a police investigation. It is heartbreaking to read the chapters by Jackson which enable us to know what actually occurred, and his confusion and difficulty about talking to anyone about it, and then the chapters by Julia as she tries to comprehend what is going on. The accusation seems unbelievable, and yet Jackson seems to have admitted he did it.

    As the story progresses we see the issues that can occur when dealing with a child whose innocence means they don’t comprehend what they are being asked, who answer questions literally without understanding the need to provide clarity around their answers and a system that fails—not just children like Jackson—by asking closed questions and not exploring answers given to ensure that the question has actually been understood, and answered in the context that the question has been asked. A bit like the old “Have you stopped beating your wife?” If you answer Yes, then the implication is you were previously beating her, if you answer No, then the implication is that you are still beating her—there is no room for the answer “I’ve never beaten my wife” or “yes, she beats me at chess sometimes now”.

    A well written book that makes us think about how we talk to and treat those labelled as neurodiverse. Four Stars.

  9. A book that was very well written and I wasnt sure Id get immersed in but I certainly did.
    For anyone that has struggled to fit into what society thinks is normal, this book is a must read.
    Very thought provoking and emotional with challenges along the way.
    Fabulous read thanks!

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