5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book which will stay in the mind of the reader., 22 July 2013
By yaninagold - See all my reviews
SO WHAT! STORIES or WHATEVER! (Kindle Edition)
It is very rare for me to post a review on Amazon but after reading this book I thought the author deserved so much credit and I wanted to encourage others to read it...
...the setting is very much a school one and it is so realistically portrayed that I suspect the author has been, or maybe still is, a Science teacher. The classroom scenes and the interaction of the teachers among themselves and with their pupils are brilliantly described. They really do make for riveting reading...
The characterisation in the book is one of its strongest features. Robert Jeffrey, around whom all of the action revolves, is a multi-faceted character who exhibits a combination of strengths and weaknesses in a complex mix. The adult reader can empathise with him very easily whilst the young adult reader (yes, this is a rare example of a book that falls equally easily into more than one genre) will identify with the brothers Shantra equally easily.
But perhaps the most impressive feature of the book is the denouement - don't worry, no spoiler alert necessary - which comes in the form of an Epilogue and has the protagonist and the schoolboys, now grown men, meet in unexpected circumstances. This last chapter had such a powerful effect that I read it three or four times, so cleverly constructed it was.
This is a book which will stay in the mind of the reader long after it has been put down and I recommend it unequivocally.
About the Author
G J Griffiths is a UK baby-boomer who worked for quite a while in the Photographic industry. Then he became a Science teacher for about twenty years. He likes reading (lots!) walking in the countryside and birdwatching - and being a Grandad! Having retired he thought he would like to write a novel. When GJ started writing Fallen Hero he was already well into the collection of stories later to become his second book: So What! Stories or Whatever! But the general direction of the plot and many of the characters were not properly formed at that time. Then along came the idea for Fallen Hero and that took over for the next 18 months or so! Originally after he had retired from teaching GJ Griffiths just wanted to write - write about many of the kids he had taught and tell his readers about some of their hilarious tales. But after a while he realised that so many of the stories would be tinged with sadness or tragedy - poignant moments, and that it was not going to be just another "book of funny stories". If he was going to include some of the difficulties that the kids' teachers also faced, many times a day sometimes, then he had to also write about why they wanted to come into education, and more importantly, why they were determined to stay in it! So Robert Jeffrey was "born" and his story is gradually unfolded and woven between the collection of students' stories. There was a danger that the book would become a continuous whinge from yet another cynical, grumbling teacher. Enter Kyle Crabbe, the bully, and some of the tales begin to have a sinister theme to them! With that stage set it meant that G J could lead the reader up a path that would allow a twist to it! Some of the books that Robert Jeffrey had read and that had inspired him to want to teach coincided, strangely enough, with some of the list that G J Griffiths had also valued. It was a list that included: R Delderfield's "To Serve Them All My Days", Thomas Hughes' "Tom Brown's Schooldays", D H Lawrence's "The Rainbow", E R Braithwaite's "To Sir with Love", "Neill! Neill! Orange Peel!", plus, of course, a couple from The Master - Charles Dickens, such as "Hard Times" and "Nicholas Nickleby". G J Griffiths still has many more So What! Stories to tell. Until he had almost finished his second book he hadn't realised that there was going to be another book-full to come out of his head and onto the written page. The second book in the series So What's Next! is now available, the third's on its way!