4 out of 4 stars
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A Bloody Book was written by Chris Bowen back in 2016. Chris is a well-respected high school educator from California who has managed to write a heart-wrenching book from a thirteen-year-old boy's point of view. A Bloody Book is told by its protagonist, Maxx, in narrative form, as part of an assignment given to him by one of his teachers, Mr. Foxx.
Mr. Foxx teaches a remedial class for disorderly students, known as “Reading Hell”. This class is given a written assignment to do by answering the question “When did you stop giving a crap?” A Bloody Book is Maxx’s answer. In its pages, Maxx tells us all about his miserable life, his long lost hope, his unhappiness and when and why he stopped giving a crap.
Our protagonist is one of the many children that tend to fall through the cracks of the educational system, often becoming neglected and pushed aside. In Kindergarten, Maxx still had hope that his life would change, would become normal. But hardships, struggles, domestic abuse, neglect and a long list of other terrible things that happen throughout his short life, caused Maxx to see that it was never going to get better for him. Even so, like so many other children in the same situations, he still held onto a small sliver of hope. His experience to the point of not giving a crap about anything is both chilling and heartbreaking to read.
The book itself is not very long, just 162 pages, and I finished it in a single day. I can honestly say I could not put it down. I, just like Maxx, had a small sliver of hope that the book would have a nice happy ending, but, just like Maxx, all of my hope slowly began to disappear as I read on until it faded into nothing. This story hit home with me as I am an educator myself and, like most, I have also made assumptions in the past that my student's lives are good at home. This story was like a cold blast of harsh reality of different lives that most of us have never had to experience.
The story itself is fiction, yet it reads like a true story, written by an angry, lost teenage boy. It just feels so real. You can feel Maxx’s emotions with every word, every situation and it made me want to cry. The book is well written and I could not find any mistakes that pulled me away from the story line. Because of this, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars.
This book is harsh, bloody, cruel, but it also helps the reader to understand more about the hardships and despair that a lot of children have to go through. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story, but to educators, social workers and young adults in particular. We can all learn something from this story. This said, given the number of raw details about domestic abuse, drug abuse, neglect, and pain, I would not recommend this book to the faint hearted or someone who is looking for a lighter read.
A Bloody Book
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