Monday, 11 May 2015
Book Review: Jack's Diary by Damian Jay Clay
by Damian Jay Clay
YA LGBT Fiction
Jack's parents cleared out his room and boxed away his things. How had this happened?
Then they found the diary and in reading found out exactly what they had done to him.
Did Jack live or did Jack die? Only the reader can make the choice.
Jack's Diary is a LGBT themed novella which was written in real time while Damian Jay Clay was studying at Ruskin College, Oxford. Though primarily aimed at a Young Adult readership, this book is one that will stay with any reader for a long time to come.
Jack is a young gay teen with very religious parents, who believe that being gay is a sin. Despite all his prayers to make his gayness go away, Jack is still gay.
He's scared and ashamed with no one to confide in and so starts to write in a diary, as the only confidante he'll ever have. He thinks he's fat and ugly and that he deserves to be punished, so that he won't go to hell and he starts throwing up after meals and taking lots of laxatives. It's not really got anything to do with wanting to be thin, Jack is doing it to punish himself for his so-called sins.
Jack's diary is heart-breaking to read. Angst piled upon angst, I wasn't sure I could read on in some places, but I'm glad I persevered. Not only does Jack have an eating disorder, his parents abuse him both physically and mentally and one line really stood out, before his father beats him, he always makes Jack get naked, and Jack says in his diary "That too was all part of the ritual." As if this has happened quite frequently and he is used to it.
Jack is so lost and confused and even when people try to help, he doesn't believe that they can. He thinks if he tells social services what happens at home, that it will just make things worse. There were times I just wanted to reach into the book and give him a hug and tell him everything was going to be all right. But I'm not sure Jack would have believed me.
He falls in love with another boy, which seemed to happen fairly fast, but I suppose at that age, things did happen fast and everything was just more frantic. The author has really got into the head of a teenager for this book. It reads as a very real story. It's very emotional
There is a prologue and author's note towards the end of the book, read beyond the note to get the happy ending. Jack deserves it after all he's been through.
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