Review by Suze
The teenager JC lives in the United States now. He moved there when Melanie decided to adopt him. However, Melanie needs to go back to JC's homecountry to finalize legally making him her son and leaves JC with his adoptive father and their dog Boy. JC's new father isn't happy at all with the arrival of a boy he doesn't know. According to Melanie he should treat him as a son, but he doesn't want to and is constantly angry. Instead of letting JC stay in the house he throws him out and makes him live in the doghouse together with Boy.
After a terrible incident JC is no longer welcome in the house that doesn't even feel like home yet. Boy is his only friend and to pass the time JC tells Boy about his life before Melanie took him in. He talks about his country, the terrible earthquake he survived, illnesses and his friends and family. JC has been through a lot and he's strong, but staying with a dog in a small wooden kennel without any regular food or water is tough and Melanie doesn't seem to come back any time soon. Will JC eventually find a way out of the doghouse and the terrible situation he and Boy are in?
Goodnight Boy is a fantastic moving story. I was shocked when I started reading it, because of the appalling conditions JC and Boy are living in. Their story moved me to tears many times, as what's happening to them is heartbreaking. Goodnight Boy is sad and emotional, but it's also beautiful and hopeful at the same time. It is a bittersweet story with a special main character and the writing is gorgeous. I couldn't put the book down, it mesmerized me and I had to keep reading. Goodnight Boy impressed me in many different ways, because of the amount of depth, the originality, the gorgeous one-way dialogue and the comfort a boy and a dog can offer each other.
Nikki Sheehan has written a stunning book about a teenage boy being unpleasantly surprised by life over and over again. JC never gets depressed, he does everything he can to make something of every situation he finds himself in and his resilience keeps getting him far. He's talking about his awful past in a matter-of-fact way and never feels any self pity. That made a difficult story light enough to keep reading. It's a strange contrast and Nikki Sheehan makes it work really well. Goodnight Boy is a story about bad luck, good and evil and everything in between. It shows how an unlucky situation can sometimes turn into a chance. It's about abuse, deep emotional wounds and the craziness that many unexpected twists and turns in life can bring. I absolutely loved this brilliant story and highly recommend it.
Goodnight Boy is a story that will appeal to both teenagers and adults. If you like original stories with many different emotional layers you'll love this book.