Tuesday, 4 May 2010

** Guest Review: Inside My Head by Jim Carrington

Unfortunately I don't always have the time to read and review every book that comes my way. I know I am incredibly lucky in this respect, and it is nice to be able to 'share the wealth' so to speak. Back in February a new kid appeared on the blogosphere block. Ryan Woods runs the Empire of Books blog, and is well worth visiting. He has been a little quiet of late due to a house move but hopefully we will hear more from him now things have settled a little. Thanks Ryan for this great review of Inside My Head by Jim Carrington.

Inside My Head by Jim Carrington is probably one of the most thought provoking and compelling books I have read for a long time. Mr. Carrington obviously knows his stuff, because this book is utterly believable. He tackles bullying in a way that I haven’t seen in literature before. And it is so perfectly written that you actually feel the sting of every taunt.

The four main characters are Gary, Knaggs (although not once in the book does Knaggs narrate, possibly my only negative point about the book), David and Zoe. All of which you find yourselves relating to at times, which is interesting. It isn’t very often you relate to all of the main protagonists in a book, which makes this book all the more appealing.

I myself am the son of a (albeit now ex) farmer, and in primary school, a few of the kids found it funny. “Haha! Farmer boy! Been out in your tractor lately? Got a brand new combine harvester and I’ll give you the keys!” But also I relate to him in the sense that everyone has had nasty things said to them. Sometimes just a few little names. But sometimes it goes a lot deeper. And for Gary, this feels pretty deep.

I also relate to Knaggs in a strange way. And kind of in an embarrassing way. Everyone at some time or another has been on the other side of name calling and taunting. Handing them out. When in a group of friends, you feel big and clever, later realising that it wasn’t such a good idea, while Knaggs doesn’t really seem to feel any guilt for the hurt he causes. That, I don’t relate to!

But also David. He’s Knaggs right hand man. And feels a loyalty to Knaggs, but knowing he has done wrong, he feels the need to be honest, and tell someone that this isn’t right. And I’m sure we’ve all been in this situation with our own friends or relatives, and suffer a moral quandary. Is it right to dob on a mate? No matter what the cost to your relationship, or do you just forget about it, despite the wounded party who is really suffering in all this?

And then there’s Zoe. She’s moved from London to the middle of nowhere in Norfolk. She feels completely out of her comfort zone. This I relate to strongly, because for me, it’s an ongoing saga, having moved just over a month ago, but in the opposite way to Zoe. We moved from a house in the country (Norfolk, no less, where the book is set) where our nearest neighbour was a minute's car journey up the road, to a mid-terrace house, in a little street with houses on all sides, and situated in the middle of a small town. Not a big fan, to be honest, so I know exactly how Zoe feels.

What I love about the book is the way that the narrative is used. You get to see it from all view points. The person being bullied – Gary. The bystander watching – David. And the person on the outside wanting to help – Zoe.

And Carrington used the Norfolk landscape brilliantly. And it just proves that bullying is just as rife in small communities, as it is in larger ones, in the cities.

Inside My Head is completely and utterly unputdownable. From start to finish I was gripped so tight it was unreal. The writing is compelling, and dare I say it, addictive. A real book lover's books. I highly recommend this to readers young and old, male and female, of any generation. And for a debut book, it is of stunning quality. Some author's debuts are good, but lack a certain something. This is something that Mr. Carrington doesn’t need to worry. Definitely one to watch in the future!

- I’d just like to say thank you to The Book Zone for giving me the opportunity to read and review this! I am so grateful!

And a big thank you from me to Ryan for this great review. Bullying is an issue that every young person worries about (yes, even the bullies themselves) and books like this are very important. In fact, I would go as far as to say that there should be a copy of this book in every secondary school library. Inside My Head is published by Bloomsbury and is in stores now.


  1. Also I think you should read The terrible Fate of Humpty Dumpty (forgot who by!) it's quite an old play script but a good one if you can get your hands on it!

  2. Great review by Ryan! I have this book in my TBR pile. I may just have to pick it up sooner than planned. Having been bullied myself when I was younger, I'm slightly worried it might be a bit of a depressing read, but this review pushes my worries aside. Cheers for the review to you both!

  3. I have just read this and agree that it is a really important book for anyone who has been involved in bullying, whether directly or indirectly.