How the Trouble Started by Robert Williams takes us on the journey of Donald Bailey, first, as an eight year old little boy who caught wind of some trouble. The first person narrative draws us close to Donald as he recounts fading memories of an incident involving a two year old little boy from down the street. Police question him and his mother questions him - all wanting to know the truth of what happened. But being the little boy that he is, Donald doesn't have the answers. All he can do is explain that "I didn't mean to do anything at all - that I was just playing outside and it went wrong" (pg 40 on iPhone Kindle app)
Donald is taken from his home town and away from where the trouble happened. At the age of sixteen, things aren't too much better for him. He's isolated from his peers save for a neighbor Fiona who he only sees on occasion. Until he meets a little boy by the name of Jake on the corner of a playground. It all starts out innocent enough, but the trouble from before still haunts Donald and his relationship with Jake continues to remind him that you can never let go (or bring back) a past.
What I Liked...
I almost didn't finish this book. At first the writer is discreet and obscure about "the trouble" and when Donald meets Jake I nearly put the book away. The close bond he develops with Jake was almost too much to take along side the small hints of the "trouble" that happened when Donald was eight years old. But, throughout the book, I cared for Donald. I was heartbroken over the loneliness he experienced and that inability to connect with his peers that resulted from the incident.
Not to mention I couldn't help but enjoy his "vanishings." Donald takes off each night in bed to other countries, to planets, to obscure little islands, to states in the middle of America to escape his surroundings. He plans his "vanishings" the same way that a writer would plan a novel. I imagine that when Donald grows up he will become a writer and the vanishings will be there for us all to use as an escape.
What Could Have Been Improved...
This is definitely a character-driven book. This doesn't have a lot of action-based moments. In order to read this book, you must like (or at least understand) Donald. A part of me urged more to happen in the book. In fact, some of the times it moved a little slow. But I understood this to be the nature of understanding and being with Donald. We were reading about his life and his struggles. There wasn't fast moving car chases, magical spells, or gun fights at high noon. This was a young man's life we were reading.
If you like strong character development, can relate to feelings of loneliness and isolation, and knows what it means to "escape" then you will want to read How the Trouble Started by Robert Williams.
How the Trouble Started by Robert Williams will be released July 5, 2012. Click here to get a notification via Amazon about its release.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.