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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Not Thomas by Sara Gethin - Book Review & Excerpt

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Review by Anniek

Tomos, not Thomas, is a five-year-old boy who's basically taking care of himself. Tomos knows the rules and he repeats these to himself all the time. He can't count on his mother who's more away than at home. Every now and then people are coming to see if he's doing alright, but Tomos will not open the door if he's home alone. He'll hide behind the big black chair and will stay there until it's safe to come back out again. Tomos writes heartbreaking letters to his Nonna and Dat asking them to please come and get him. What will happen when Tomos's mother leaves her little boy alone for a longer period of time?

Tomos is such a sweet young boy. He'll do what he's told and he is incredibly polite. His world is the only world he has ever known and it broke my heart to read about everything that he has to go through. A five-year-old, or any child for that matter, shouldn't be worried about what to eat and about being cold at night. Children will always stay loyal to their mother or father and Tomos is happy every time his mother comes home again. Tomos has to make a lot of adult decisions, but he hasn't lost his childlike innocence. Little Tomos found his way to my heart from the very first lines. I wanted to take him home with me so that I could give him the safe environment a child needs. Children need and deserve to feel loved and sheltered and my heart ached for Tomos. His story greatly impressed me and will stay with me for a long time.

Not Thomas is a heartbreaking story about a young boy who has to find his way through abandonment and abuse. His mother is still so young and had a troubled past. This makes her incapable of caring for Tomos. She isn't insensitive, but she isn't sensible and just doesn't understand what her actions mean for Tomos. How could a mother leave her child for any amount of time, let alone days or weeks? Not Thomas is an emotional read and I couldn't stop myself tearing up numerous times. Sara Gethin tells her story from Tomos's perspective and adjusted her writing style to match a five year old's. This made Not Thomas even more gripping and shocking. The story really got to me and it kept me hooked till the last page.


If you're looking for a gripping and compelling story, get this book, it's fantastic. Please take in consideration that this is a story that covers some very difficult topics.

About Sara Gethin

Sara Gethin is the pen name of Wendy White. She grew up in Llanelli and studied theology and philosophy at Lampeter, the most bijoux of universities. Her working life has revolved around children – she’s been a childminder, an assistant in a children’s library and a primary school teacher. She also writes children’s books as Wendy White, and her first, ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’, won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014. Her own children are grown up now, and while home is still west Wales, she and her husband spend much of their free time across the water in Ireland. ‘Not Thomas’ is her first novel for adults.

Author links

Website / blog:


The lady’s here. The lady with the big bag. She’s knocking on the front door. She’s knocking and knocking. And knocking and knocking. I’m not opening the door. I’m not letting her in. I’m behind the black chair. I’m very quiet. I’m very very quiet. I’m waiting for her to go away.

I’ve been waiting a long time.

‘Thomas, Thomas.’ She’s saying it through the letter box.

‘Thomas, Thomas.’

I’m not listening to her. I’m not listening at all. She’s been knocking on the door for a long long time. I’m peeping round the black chair. I’m peeping with one of my eyes. She’s not by the front door now. She’s by the long window. I can see her shoes. They’re very dirty. If Dat saw those shoes he’d say, ‘There’s a job for my polishing brush’.

She’s stopped knocking. She’s stopped saying ‘Thomas’. She’s very quiet. The lady can’t see me. I’m behind the big black chair. And I’ve pulled my feet in tight.

‘Thomas?’ she says. ‘Thomas?’ I’m not answering. ‘I know you’re in there. Just come to the window, sweetheart. So I can see you properly.’

I’m staying still. I’m not going to the window. I’m waiting for her to go back to her car. It’s a green car. With a big dent in it. If I hide for a long time she’ll go. She’ll get back in her car and drive away. She’s knocking. And knocking again.

She’s saying ‘Thomas.’ And knocking and knocking again.


That is not my name.


  1. This sounds super interesting, but I'd need to be in the right mood to read it. It sounds so sad! Great review!

  2. I have read this book and met the author. She is a lovely lady. The whole family has read it. It's certainly an eye opener.

  3. Tricky one, as a mother could I read this without needing a whole box of tissues?

  4. Wow this seem like a book I could get deeply emotionally invested in!

  5. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing 'Not Thomas', Anniek. What a fantastic review - I really appreciate it. Sorry it was such an emotional read!

  6. A compelling story that authentically depicts the sad truth of many children today.#loveTomos because someone needs to love all the Tomoses of this broken world.

  7. A compelling story that authentically depicts the sad truth of many children today.#loveTomos because someone needs to love all the Tomoses of this broken world.

  8. Might be too much for me right now, but it sounds like it's beautifully done!


  9. I like the excerpt quite a bit. Seems like an emotional story and its always interesting to read from a child's perspective.

  10. Wow, sounds so good. The cover itself draws me in.

  11. I work as an advocate for children and families in difficult circumstances and would like to commend Sara for giving a voice to children like Tomos.

  12. Oh that sounds heartbreaking and I hope it ends well for poor Tomos!

  13. This looks like an excellent and thought-provoking book. But I would need to read this book at the right time-- I don't think that this is one I could just casually pick up and start reading.
    Thanks for the great post!

  14. Wow, this sounds like such a sad story, but one that you can't help but continue reading.

  15. This sounds like a sad tragic story.