Through the journal he keeps, Jason Dooley offers readers a window into his life at Heronford, a British school for kids with behavioral and emotional difficulties.
When Jason loses his temper, he kicks teachers, hits fellow students, throws chairs and fire extinguishers, and has to be forcibly restrained by Pete, his teacher. Pete seems to see something in Jason and offers him a notebook that becomes JASON’S JOURNAL. At first, Jason says it’s just a waste of good paper and only writes rude jokes and “a load of crap and squiggles.” Gradually, though, Jason takes to writing, and his journal becomes his voice, offering readers the gift of his life and humanity. No longer is he just that misbehaving boy in a school apart from “normal” kids; he reveals himself and the experiences that helped make him. He describes the home he is sent to when his mother is hooked on heroin and his yearning to regain normalcy instead of getting into fights and watching children’s television “because it was how to forget about the place you were.” If it’s not quite believable that Jason could write such a sustained and focused journal, it is, nevertheless, a powerful testament to the power of words and the influence of strong teachers.
A moving story about hurt children, brave teachers and the poetry within. (author’s note) (Fiction. 11-16)