Inside My Head  

by Jim Carrington
Published by Bloomsbury

Inside My Head by Jim Carrington Published by Bloomsbury At last, a book that doesn’t tell a tale of vampires lands on my desk! Inside My Head is the debut novel of teacher Jim Carrington. Let’s hope he doesn’t suffer from second book syndrome as this is an impressive start to his writing career.

The story is simple: Zoe and her family move from Morden, in London, to a village outside Norwich.
She befriends Gary, who is being victimised by Knaggs, the one-dimensional school bully, whose friend David is torn between ‘Kid Rules’ (‘stand by your mates’) and his conscience. The structure is simple: Zoe, Gary and David tell their story in short chapters, each with a distinctive voice yet told in a language of impressive clarity.All the characters ring true.

The simplicity of narrative belies the complex theme of bullying and the emotional reaction to events of the protagonists.

Knaggs’s cruelty is shocking (the spitting incident particularly vile) and the reader feels Gary’s despair and frustration.
Zoe’s character in particularly is beautifully drawn. Her ability to take life at face value, with a strong sense of right and wrong pushes on the story.

It is David, the bully’s friend, who makes us most uncomfortable. He may have a conscience but he does not act upon it and up until the powerful climax, the ‘Rules’ have been so acutely followed that one does not know if good will prevail.
No one wants bullies in their school but the truth is that the bullied will not tell, despite all the ‘initiatives’ poured into schools to prevent it. Gary doesn’t tell, Zoe doesn’t tell and David certainly doesn’t. But life is complex, and Carrington captures this well.

Inside My Head is a powerful, realistic and poignant novel that will resonate with the older teenager. Highly recommended.

Review by
Lesley Finlay