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    What it's like to grow up when you are different

    Tom Houghton by Todd Alexander was an absolute delight to read, that will pull at your heart strings. The story is told from two alternating narratives, Tom Houghton as an adult, the other himself as a 12 year old boy. Through his story as a child we come to understand how Tom became the adult he is today. As a boy growing up in the 1980's Tom lives in the Western suburbs of Sydney with his mother and grandfather. To say that Tom's family is dysfunctional would be an understatement. He is obsessed with Hollywood particularly the Silver Screen of the Golden Age and Katherine Hepburn is his favourite actress. Tom is a lonely boy with no father, no siblings and no friends, who is struggling with his sexuality. Tom is bullied relentlessly because of not fitting into the world of football and rough housing. To cope with the stress of bullying and his home life, he spends his time cutting out pictures from magazines and cataloging all of Hollywood's Stars. He is living in a world of dreams that are reaching the point of delusion as an escapism from his heartbreaking reality. The lonelier he becomes, the more obsessed he becomes with Katherine Hepburn and what he learns about her will change Tom forever. As a man, Tom is certainly not the beautiful young man full of optimism and hope that we met as a child. It seems in many ways the years have broken him down. He has a younger boyfriend but his insecurities and doubts about himself are destroying the relationship and all that it could be. He is a stage actor who is bitter and seems jealous of fellow colleagues accomplishments. Tom is an alcoholic and not a pleasant one at that. As such, sadly he is not reaching his full potential as either and actor or as a man. Tom needs to revisit himself as a boy to heal the man. It is only then will he understand just who is Tom Houghton. Alexander has written a story, that reminds us of what it is to be human and that it okay to be different. We need to learn to love ourselves and others for exactly who they are. It also never hurts to remind people that any type of bullying is never okay. It is a book I would love to see in high school libraries. 4 out of 5 stars
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