Book Reviews: The Watchman by Matt Langfordcategories: Book, Literary, Stream of Consciousness, Devon, Real Life, Tragedy, Growing Up, Learning Difficulty, Family
Matt Langfordabout this book: The Watchman is a fictional novel told through the eyes of Adam, a young man with a learning difficulty. At heart he is a loving, affectionate boy who loves his family. His downfall is his frustration, however - borne from an inability to communicate properly. As he grows older more and more of these frustrations build in his mind as he comes to terms with the inevitability of growing up - people move on. The break up of his family deals him a terrible blow and leads to an horrific breakdown in which all those he loves are hurt the most.
Follow Adam from 1988 as he and his family move to rural Devon. After meeting new and interesting characters his two siblings, Jake and Joss, grow and move closer to their own friends. We also encounter Adam's unfortunate Gran who bears the brunt of his unique sense of humour. As the marriage of his parents breaks down, Jake and Joss move away, (even the long suffering dog disappears without so much as a goodbye) and his only real friend comes and goes in a heart beat, Adam descends further into his own safe world of tea, drives and Watching.
The novel is based upon my early life, growing up with a brother who had a learning difficulty. Although the characters are original they all contain elements of the real people in my life. All the events are real, if a little dramatised.
I've been writing this work on and off for 12 years. For a long time I couldn't get it to work - I had a lot of interaction with world outside Adam's narration, and it just didn't seem right. Now the entire novel is from Adam's perspective with a smattering of dialogue from his family and friends. The title is based upon Adam's favourtite pursuit - watching out of his bedroom window.
This is a very personal work and my greatest fear is that I've made it too personal. This work is an attempt to try and see the world from my brother's point of view - how does it feel to be a child in an adult body? How do you deal with problems you can't comprehend if you're unable to communicate? And, crucially, what happens when the desire to grow and leave home is switched off but all those around you are moving on?
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Other books by Matt Langford
From the depths of my soul I loved this book..From the depths of my soul I loved this book. Every single line, every word, the entire thing. Written from the vantage of a mentally retarded teenager, you live his life through his heart and mind. This is the story of Adam, and Adam's world.
He has two slightly younger siblings, a sister and a brother who you watch grow and change through Adam's eyes. You literally see the entire world through this boys mind and its incredible. The entire story is written so beautifully and clearly that I don't even know how to leave a good enough review.
When the family moves to the country, and Adam is introduced to a new school you live the change through Adam's eyes. It was incredible to actually live in this world for the brief time I did. His feelings and emotions are honest, genuine and so intense at times. You live his interactions with family, his beloved Gram, and those around him.
You literally experience Adam's life. You also see the 'why' behind his actions. Its so precious to me. Adam has to adjust (sometimes violently) to his new home and new school. He has interactions with both awful and wonderful people. He can clearly tell who want and can effectively interact with him, as he cannot understand most of what people say and he cannot speak but to utter a few sounds he forms into words.
His family undergoes some intense changes as well and as his family slowly diminishes in size you swim in Adam's emotions and actions. He forms close bonds with one of his 'teachers' in the special center that he's enrolled in, but even those ties break in Adam's mind when his family breaks apart.
Finally unable to hold in his rage, Adam does something unspeakable to his mother. His episodes of rage overcome him more and more and his life takes a scary new turn. His acts of violence towards people and things have landed Adam in a new environment that he must adapt to and learn to understand.
Through it all he is blessed enough to have a family that cares so deeply for him. In the end, that was all that mattered. I was pleased with the ending, though sad, it was perfect. [by Jennifer Hyndman]
Should be a complusory read
by author Susan PrestonThis book is not a comfortable read by any means. If you know someone with a behavioural disorder, it is like lifting the lid on his or her inner life.
If you have ever seen someone behaving 'inappropriately' then this book is like lifting stone and looking at what is underneath the stone you have lifted.
Next time you see people with special needs, think about what caring for them at home might feel like for the family and the effect is has on them. This book covers the family aspect too.
I didn't like the repetition of the 'f' word as the book drew to a conclusion but have to admit it was appropriately used.
All in all I have given 5 stars to the book because I believe the author tackled an incredibly difficult subject, and did it well.
• Book Review: The Burning Man Prophecies by Matt Langford|
• Book Review: First Life on Earth, Scientific Adam & Eve by Walter Parks|
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