Choo Woo – Lloyd Jones

I loved Mr. Pip so when John Murray, his publishers, invited me to meet Lloyd Jones I jumped at the chance. In preparation I decided to read one of his other books and because I owned a copy of Choo Woo it was the obvious choice.

Choo Woo isn’t a happy book. It focuses on ten-year-old Natalie who is sexually abused by her mother’s new boyfriend. Her innocence was touching to read, but I found her acceptance of the situation heartbreaking. The book wasn’t sexually explicit, leaving almost everything up to your imagination, but her thoughts and actions seemed realistic and this made the book more disturbing to read.

We also see things from the point of view of Natalie’s father, who is laden with guilt for not noticing what was happening to his daughter.

I wondered how I had missed so many obvious things. I wondered what had turned my head at crucial moments when a more deliberate glance would have told me everything. I wondered where the hell my head was during that year for a thing like that to have happened right under my nose.

The simple, powerful writing was gripping throughout, but by the end I just felt deflated and sad. It came across as an accurate portrayal of an abused child, but I didn’t feel as though I’d learnt anything new.

By coincidence I have read quite a few books about child abuse recently and feel I could write a essay comparing them. Instead I’ll summarize with a little table:

  Point of View Emotion New Perspective
Room Child of Abused Bucket Loads YES!
Forgetting Zoe Abuser, Abused and Family of Abused Trace In Places
Choo Woo Abused Child and Father of Abused Lots No

Reading about any form of abuse is hard, but when it affects a child it is even worse. I think I’ll try and avoid books about the subject for a while, but I have found it interesting to compare them all.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys dark, sad stories.

Have you read any of the other books that Lloyd Jones has written?

Which was your favourite?

Lloyd Jones has a new book coming out soon.

Hand Me Down World will be released on 11th November in the UK (2nd Nov in the US).

I’m going to be giving away copies of this new book on my blog soon, so if you are interested in winning a copy keep your eyes peeled for my giveaway post.

19 replies on “Choo Woo – Lloyd Jones”

Very interesting Jackie. Sounds like a good book. I’ve just read a non-fiction book about child abuse that has me reconsidering a lot of what I’ve thought I’ve known, and I’m interested to hear how others react to it (review later this week). It also has me reconsidering how abuse is written in stories and what isn’t included. This sounds like an interesting book though I suspect it falls into the usual type that we hear about!

I have a friend Natalie who spent her entire childhood being sexually abused – while this book sounds poignant and powerful, I think that connection would make it way too tough for me to read.

Amanda, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend and can see that the name of the character would make this even harder for you to read. I think you’d be wise to avoid this one.

Sandy, The title isn’t very nice. The abuser pretended to be a train and chanted Choo Woo, Choo Woo as ‘his train’ entered the ‘tunnel’. Sick stuff 🙁

Abused children is a difficult topic to read about. I always feel like I can’t say I “enjoyed” or “loved” a book with this topic.

Inspired by your review, I just bought “ROOM” for myself with my birthday money.

Jenners, I’m so pleased that you bought a copy of Room. Despite its difficult subject matter I think that it is possible to say that you enjoyed Room. I think I can only admire Choo Woo though – no enjoyment there 🙁

This looks like my kind of book, but also afraid I will get disturbed by it.
I read Mr Pip, and I thought it is so unusual to find a writer who is able to write in the most frivolous way yet inject such horror.

I’ll try to look this up! Keep warm Jackie. Everyone is sick at work and at home with the change of weather, take care!

JoV, I agree. He is a very skilled writer. It is all so simple and easy to read, yet full of disturbing sections.

Thanks for your well wishes. I am getting a sore throat, hopefully that is as far as it will go 🙂

I loved Mr. Pip as well, and I read The Book Of Fame which I didn’t enjoy (it was about the first All Blacks tour) but I thought it was incredibly well-written. This was on my to-read list by default, but your review makes me want to read it even more, for based on the earlier books, I can almost enjoy how well this one would be written, and how incredibly the emotions would be brought forth.

Thanks for the review, and I look forward to reading the new book as well when it comes out.

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