The Boy in the Dress, David Walliams
David Walliams has written two other books for children: Mr Stink and Billionaire Boy.
This Perfect World, Suzanne Bugler
This Perfect World is the next on the list of books selected by Richard and Judy for their Book Club. The Richard and Judy Book Club has been quite a significant event for encouraging people to read and discuss books that maybe they wouldn't otherwise. Formerly featured on their afternoon show, the Book Club has really helped to publicise such books as The Time Traveller's Wife, My Sister's Keeper, and The Lovely Bones in the UK. I've had mixed reactions to the R&J selections, adoring some and being very indifferent to others. This should be expected, really, as the books are chosen to appeal to a wide audience.
This Perfect World wasn't one of the "adores" for me. The story revolves around Laura Hamley, former school bully and centre of the "in-crowd," whose life is shaken up when she receives a phone call from the mother of Helen "Heddy" Partridge - one of her former victims. Heddy is has suffered a mental breakdown and is in hospital, and Mrs Partridge wants Laura to help her to get out. Laura is not so keen.
I find it difficult to enjoy a book if I can't like the central character, and I'll be blunt: I felt nothing but disgust and loathing for Laura. Reading This Perfect World so soon after Cookie, my own memories of being bullied were still close to the surface and Laura, and her friends were horrible. All through the book, she is reluctantly persuaded into helping Mrs Partridge, driving her to the hospital or looking after Heddy's child, but constantly Laura's thoughts are of getting rid of the "problem" of Heddy, keeping her in the past so that she doesn't have to think about her any more. We see how childhood bullies have grown into snobs and bigots, and how the playground politics seem set to influence their own children's relationships with each other. This Perfect World was a quick read which nonetheless provoked a lot of thought, but ultimately I found it bleak and depressing and I wasn't sorry to finish.