WHITE GOODS by Guy A. Johnson

white goodsThis is a story set in the south of England in the 80s.  It is told by a couple of different narrators,  the principle narrator being a twelve year old boy.  The other is his 16 year old brother.

It is related to us in the way that kids tell things., with important information missing, or simply hinted at, complete fabrications, wishful thinking, and a skirting around the truth while at the same time searching for the truth.   It is a fine example of how we experience events as kids,  how we try to tweak the unpleasant or the downright nasty into something we can actually deal with.

It starts off with an unnamed adult leading a small child to a chest freezer in a shed and shoving the boy into it, latching the lid.  And works backward from there.

I really want you to read this book, so I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, other than to say there seems to be the death of the young man’s mother.  He tells his school mates that she died by falling against the dishwasher.  But wait, no, another time he says she died in the bath when a radio fell into the bath.  Another time it was the fault of a hair dryer. So what really happened to his mom?

There is Tina, a member of the strange family of our boy’s best friend.  Tina seems to be loved by the family and rather uniked by every one else in town.  When she accompanies them to, say, the library, she is made to wait outside.

The father of our protagonist, and the father of his best friend both work at an outlet called Dontask.  Dad keeps bringing home cartons of items that he stores in the living room and sells on the side.

There is school bullying, and there seems to be a piling up of bodies.  There is a mysterious character named Jackie, and what appears to be a ghost of a woman who kind of appears here and there.  I love ghosts.

It is hard to know always what is going on, which frankly I really liked.  Twists, turns, lies, mistaken takes on events, just a real puzzle of a book.  Now you can read it and whine that you can’t figure out what’s going on, or you can read it and just allow it all to happen, because the ending….. well!  Yeah.  That ending…..

I have no idea what to call the genre for this book.  Mystery?  Coming-of-age?  Literary fiction?  OK, I’m going with all three.  Go read it.



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