Jerry is being bullied at school. Those who pick on him target the fact that he wears glasses, and he suffers their cruel taunts and physical attacks. However, Jerry also begins to experience some unusual effects as a result of his short-sightedness, sometimes giving him a different, special way of seeing his world.
‘He couldn’t explain the weird phenomena caused by his myopia, but one thing did occur to him: perhaps short-sightedness was not a disability after all, but rather a way of seeing the world in a different way.’
This book deals honestly with bullying and friendship, with prejudice and coming to terms with difficult situations. Jerry sadly considers the way the bullies have treated him: ‘What goes through a person’s head to think it’s okay to make another human being feel so worthless and humiliated?’ I think the author dealt with these important themes extremely well within his novel; this is an insightful story. The bullies are realistic and the bullying harsh, but the bullies are real characters, not stereotypes. Importantly, whether seemingly good or bad, the story illustrates that there is always more to a person than meets the eye.
I liked several of the characters; in particular the marvellous, innovative and supportive school deputy head, Mr Quincy Finn. Whilst other teachers do little to support Jerry, Mr Finn takes pride in making the school a better, safer place, and in empowering Jerry himself to be a big part of that change.
The author takes the subject of short-sightedness and makes it feel positive for Jerry; when he has his eyesight checked and is told of his myopia, he compares the sound of the word to another word, utopia, and imagines myopia as a place that he can visit only because of his particular eyesight.
This young adult novel is an intelligent, skillful and well-written treatment of a serious subject that sadly affects all too many children and indeed adults, with an admirable main character and a little feeling of fantasy and magic at times. Despite the central topic, it is not without touches of humour and romance, and it is definitely enjoyable and rewarding as an adult read too.
L.H. Healy, 12th March 2013