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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.5 out of 5
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124 reviews have 5 stars
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  • Open Your Heart

    This one was terrific, and a surprise read for me! I haven’t read anything else by this Australian author, but this is her fifth book. I found her writing style so easy to read and I was completely drawn into this story and these characters. It was fun to have some Australian words thrown in that I had to go look up! There’s a mom, Julia, that I could so relate to with a husband who travels a lot and three busy kids along with a house to organize. Her teen daughter Milla has her first boyfriend and youngest child Ruby loves to dress up. And how can you have a great relationship with your husband when he’s gone so much? The star of the book though is Jackson, the unusual boy. He’s 11 and has never been diagnosed. This brings up some interesting dilemmas and the desire by a lot of people that you need a label/diagnosis. It made me think more about how I would feel with a child like Jackson. He sometimes struggles to find the right words to express himself and can act out and he has some physical tics. You can imagine how many of the kids at school treat him. There’s a situation at school with another boy that goes horribly wrong and my heart just breaks for the family. The police clearly do not know how to interact with Jackson and the school is very dismissive. The whole family is impacted, and I had my fingers crossed that things would somehow work out. There was a twist at the end that I did not see coming but makes perfect sense now that I think about it! I also really liked how Julia’s relationship with her mother-in-law developed throughout the book. I really grew to care for Jackson and hoped that he could find happiness and that his whole family could continue to embrace how special he really is, what a great character! I think if you are a fan of the book/movie “Wonder” you would also enjoy this book.

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    19 person found this review helpful

    19 people found this review helpful

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • funny, thought-provoking, heart-warming and uplift

    “Every morning when I wake up, my beans are flying around inside me like popcorn in a pot. They bounce me out of bed and make me want to jump and dance and do a hundred push-ups, even when the rest of the world is sleeping.” An Unusual Boy is the fourth novel by Australian author, Fiona Higgins. Eleven-year-old Jackson Curtis is a very special boy. He’s also a challenge for his family, but they love him and they’re (mostly) patient with all the tics, quirks, habits, and the routines that seem to follow an inexplicable logic. His little sister likes having a different brother because he’s never boring; she dubs his tendency to do handstands in public places “café yoga”. The family tries to “focus on the one thing we can control: our responses to Jackson’s behaviours.” Jackson is smart (maybe too smart for the class teacher at his new school?) and he likes chess and soccer, but hasn’t made any real friends because the kids think he’s strange. Except April Kennedy, who’s shy and kind, and Miss Marion, with her rainbow hair and funny socks, who teaches dance. He’s excited to have a play date with Digby Bianco after soccer on Mother’s Day, but it’s not quite what he imagined, and leaves him unsettled. And the next day at school, something happens that makes Jackson feel very uncomfortable, but he’s promised Digby he won’t tell, and one of their family rules is that they don’t break promises. Suddenly, the police are involved and Julia Curtis, music therapist and busy mother of three, has to handle everything in the absence of her workaholic husband, temporarily overseas. The fact that “Jackson has always been so literal and linear in his thinking” and his inability to quickly articulate exactly what has occurred (“when people talk a lot, my brain gets glued up. And sometimes when it gets really clogged, I start seeing things in black and white”) works against him, seeing him ostracised. Julia finds she must push past her exhaustion to draw on the well of strength and inventiveness she didn't know she had. As the school mothers jump to conclusions and close ranks, Julia is surprised and heartened by support from unexpected quarters. Her usually-disapproving mother-in-law becomes a fierce supporter of her unusual grandson; and the soccer coach and dance teacher remain stalwart in Jackson’s corner. Higgins effortlessly evokes this familiar setting, her characters are completely believable, and their dialogue that of those people we encounter on the school run, at the supermarket, in the café. Jackson is an utter delight: who could fail to fall in love with a boy who asks “Is time… heavy or light?” When things start to go pear-shaped, it’s hard not to feel anxious for this remarkable boy. It’s almost a privilege to dip into the lives of these characters, and investment in them is well rewarded with humour and wise words. If this is a cautionary tale about the dangers to children of unsupervised internet access, then it is equally an admonition to avoid xenophobia of any sort: race, colour, creed or simply a different way of thinking, an alternate perception of the world. The common compulsion to “label” is countered by Julia: “Sometimes labels just put special kids in boxes. Sometimes they just give adults an excuse to stop thinking.” A totally credible tale, funny, thought-provoking, heart-warming and uplifting, contained within a stunning cover designed by Becky Glibbery: this has to be Fiona Higgins’s best yet! This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Boldwood Books

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    12 person found this review helpful

    12 people found this review helpful

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Great read!

    Thank you Net Galley for an ARC of An Unusual Boy. This book started off slow for me, but at a quarter it picked right up and never stopped. I loved this story.

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    3 person found this review helpful

    3 people found this review helpful

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • A better understanding of what kids go through.

    I received an ARC from NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an honest review. This was a quick read book and the people in it bring you into their world. Jackson is an unusual boy and people didn't understand him and at times it was heartbreaking reading what was happening to him and at other times he just made me so glad that I was meeting him. I learned some lessons reading this book. and I walked away with more understanding. But the book also has some warnings that parents and people need to be aware of. I have grandkids and I know a lot more about the dangers that they deal with. It was a well-written book that had so much heart, The things that are going on today, I think most everyone would learn some things from reading this book.

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    2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • All. The. Stars.

    How have I never heard of Fiona Higgins before!? Such a brilliant storyteller. This story tore my heart out and stomped all over it. Such an emotional story. It is told from two points of view Jackson and his mother, Jules. This was a fantastic read. Not necessarily the subject matter but the writing and story-line itself. I found myself still reading till the middle of the night. This book made me appreciate how good I had it with my boys. As a mother I could feel the panic, pain, sadness, etc that Julia was going through. It was emotionally taxing to read, but I could not put the book down. It is a very well written story and I was desperate to get to the end, while at the same time not wanting to leave Jackson, Jules and their story behind. I couldn't stop reading this this one...that's a sign of a great book. Highly recommend. All the stars.

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    2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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