Upwood Road is a coming of age novel akin to Sue Townsend’s The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole with a similar tone to The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton. Set in a small, rural village in southern England, Thomas, a slow to develop eleven-year-old, has a macabre curiosity of death. The novel focuses on the painful revelations that come with the maturing of early puberty for a boy with an absent father, a struggling single mother and a highly inappropriate friendship with the alcoholic Staples who recently moved onto Upwood Road.
September 1998, Thomas has begun secondary school to find himself the recipient of much torment from his more developed peers. Truanting from PE class to avoid the bullying, Thomas becomes obsessed with drawing a deceased badger on the side of the road opposite his house. He quickly forms an unlikely and inappropriate, but surprisingly healthy relationship with the heartbroken Staples. They become close, each offering the other what they need. Thomas is granted a male influence who, although highly unorthodox in execution, aids him through his pubic dilemma. Staples finds an unconditional love from a boy he first sees as an irritation.
Thomas’ fascination with the macabre is brought to the centre of his mother’s attention when he begins to remember a disturbing incident from his early childhood; a sister. Confronted by this intelligent, maturing young man; Sandra is forced to tell her son, Thomas, the truth. She reveals that seven years earlier, Thomas had discovered his infant sister; a tragic victim of cot death. The memory had been supressed but not extinguished causing him intense and inexplicable pain feeding his morose intrigues. Accepting his sorrow laden past and finally understanding his father’s absence, Thomas transitions from boy to young man.
Excerpts from the novel will be shared on my blogs etc. shortly.