Book Jar Reads: The Wrong Boy by Willy Russell

The Wrong BoyIn my Book Jar is a combination of non-read books and books I have loved so much I need to read them again. The Wrong Boycame out this week and this was probably about my fifth read of the novel since I first discovered it when I was about 14/15.

Willy Russell is a genius, better known for Blood Brothers and Educating Rita, he’s just fantastic and sadly The Wrong Boy is his only novel – I WANT MORE. The Wrong Boy is Raymond’s story and it’s bloody brilliant.

Teenager Raymond Marks has not had a charmed life. His profligate, instrument-loving father made an early exit, leaving him with a struggling mother and doting Sartre-fan grandmother. Fifteen minutes of potential glory when he saved a boy from drowning are cruelly compromised when it’s discovered that the boys were near the canal indulging in what they called “flytrapping”, and Raymond becomes “the precocious pervert, the evil influence, the filthy little beast”. Eventually packed off to “Gulag Grimsby” at the suggestion of his despised Uncle Jason, Raymond pours out his life’s woes in a series of missives to his idol, one-time Smiths’ star Morrissey.

Russell uses language in a way that is just brilliant. It’s near perfect in fact. From Uncle Bastard Jason and his boring children to his fantastic interpretation of how a comic-loving teenager would interpret every day words is brilliant. We have Psycho the Rapist in the comfy office, the headteacher who describes himself as ‘alert’ and spawns a whole race of boring individuals in Raymond’s mind called ‘Lerts’. It’s brilliant Russell plays with language in a way I absolutely adore.

I do not get on with comedy novels as a rule, I don’t find things funny when I’m supposed to and feel the writing is forced but nothing is as natural as the way Russell writes and his characters are brilliant. My favourites are Raymond’s Gran and her miserable outlook on life, she definitely reminds me of me and I also love Norman Gorman who is just hilarious and so ODD it’s unbelievable. It’s a weird and twisted story in some ways but brilliant all the same. Read it. it’s amazing.

Rating: ★★★★★