The Book Boy (Bloomsbury, 2006) by Joanna Trollope is another in the series of Quick Reads. Again it is a character study, this time about Alice, a wife and mother of teenage children. Alice grew up in a dysfunctional family and didn’t spend enough time at school learning to read. Consequently at thirty-eight she is still unable to read and believes herself to be ‘dumb’. This negative picture of herself is adopted by her family who use her inadequacy to their advantage. Things change for Alice when she is challenged by her friend to do something about her situation instead of being resigned to it. The steps Alice takes surprise everyone. Alice uses her initiative and courage to make changes in her life that will reach far into the future. Her family is forced to change too as their mother is no longer the door-mat she once was.

I enjoyed this story of a down trodden woman facing her fears and being prepared to do something to improve her situation. Joanna Trollope has written a realistic story about the negative impact poor schooling can have on a person, how this affects their self-esteem and therefore the opportunities they have in life.