They told me I had to write this. It’s taken a while to get started but here I am.
‘Here I am.’ Sounds like I’m talking to the coppers again.
‘Here I am. Yes, sir. No, sir. OK I did it, sir. Here I am.’
The stuff I’ve been given up for. I can’t believe it. People are still on my back in this place. Same old story. So here I am writing. Figure that one out.
Clem is always in trouble – with his teachers, with the police, with his dad. In fact, he’s been in so much strife that now he’s been sent to a school for troubled teens. His counsellor, the Rev, wants him to write letters, so he writes them to his much loved but now dead Gram, telling her about his day to day life – and about his past.
As he settles into life at this new school, Clem enjoys bike racing, makes some new friends and unexpectedly finds a girlfriend. But he also has to face some hard times – the death of one of his classmates, his troubled relationship with his dad, and some tough memories from his childhood. Can he get through all these and turn his life around?
They Told Me I Had To Write This is a gut-wrenching novel, which is likely to reduce the reader to tears in places. At the same time, though, it is an uplifting read. Clem is a likeable narrator – honest, self-deprecating and humorous – and it is an honour to witness his growth as he turns his life around with the support of good friends and caring adults.
There is a touch of romance, lots of bikes and vehicles, and some twists, and the use of the letter/diary format makes the text both accessible and interesting as we wait for Clem to divulge information.
They Told Me I Had To Write This, by Kim Miller
Ford Street, 2009
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