BSA's librarian John Ford introduces two new books in the BSA library.
Both these books have a common theme: the problems and feelings of childhood and adolescent people who stammer. But they are very different, though both are set in the present day. Cameron Raynes’s book is fiction and is set in the Australian outback. The first-person narrator is a fifteen-year-old boy placed against his will into a violent environment where his friend’s mother becomes the target of a violent criminal out for revenge. Susan Wharton’s is very much non-fiction: it is the scrupulously honest account of the author growing up very recently in Lancashire. In my experience it is quite difficult to write really honestly about stammering; both these writers succeed.
Where they both excel is in showing exactly what problems someone who stammers faces, whether in Australia or England. I was brought up in England in the 1950s, so it’s wonderful to me that such books can be written at all, let alone that they are so well written. Both of the main characters struggle on through adversity, dealing with many indifferent people, a few people who cause them a lot of suffering, whether on purpose or not, and even fewer but very important people who help them. At the end both people are much happier than at the beginning.
Reading these books made me realise how difficult it is, if not impossible, to portray stammering in print. Repetitive stammering is easy. But how to portray blocks? All you can really do is say that you blocked on a particular word. Perhaps one day someone will find a solution. But enough of that. Anyone who stammers is bound to get a lot out of both these books. In particular, young people who feel isolated will hopefully get some comfort from realising that they are not the only people in this situation, and that things can get better.