Read A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines Online


The classic book that inspired Kes, the famous film, now published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Barry Hines's A Kestrel for a Knave was published in 1968, and was made into one of the key British films of the sixties. Billy Casper is beaten by his drunken brother, ignored by his mother and failing at school. He seems destined for a hard, miserable life down tThe classic book that inspired Kes, the famous film, now published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Barry Hines's A Kestrel for a Knave was published in 1968, and was made into one of the key British films of the sixties. Billy Casper is beaten by his drunken brother, ignored by his mother and failing at school. He seems destined for a hard, miserable life down the pits, but for a brief time, he finds one pleasure in life: a wild kestrel that he has raised and tamed himself....

Title : A Kestrel for a Knave
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780241978962
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Kestrel for a Knave Reviews

  • Jean
    2019-02-03 15:08

    When I was a child I used to live in a large city in the North of England. One day I was told that my brother, whom I idolised but who had moved to the bright lights of London, was going to pay us a flying visit. Apparently there was a new film which he wanted to see, and it was to be premièred - unusually - in the North. The film was "Kes".I was pleased, but a little puzzled, when he took me along with him to one of the biggest cinemas in the middle of the city. I was then disappointed to find at the start of the film that it was filmed in black and white; this being unheard of at the time for a new film. I was even more surprised to hear that the characters on the screen talked just like I did - only more so. They sounded, as my family would have called them, "rough". As the film went on I met Billy Casper, the main character in the film who was just a couple of years older than me. He was cheeky, dirty, he lied and talked back to his elders, he thieved things, he skived off and ran all over the place. I came from a family who were hard-up but honest and proud. I didn't admire or envy Billy at all. But ...He had a hawk. And the hawk was beautiful; wild and free. And she trusted Billy. She flew for Billy, and Billy alone. I sat up.Many years later I have now read the book on which "Kes" was based, A Kestrel for a Knave, by Barry Hines. And I realise how brave and unique an achievement it was. Barry Hines can write. And he wrote here about his own childhood, for he too was born in a small mining village near the town of Barnsley in Yorkshire, in 1939. Nobody expected him to amount to much. He was a promising footballer, and became a PE teacher first in London and later in Yorkshire. During his spare time he wrote this startling book, which was published in 1968 and became an immediate success. This allowed him to write full time, and go on to write nine more novels, as well as straightaway co-writing the screenplay of "Kes" with Ken Loach. As a child he had had a pet hawk.The portrayal of Billy is searingly honest and raw. He doesn't have a chance. The whole world seems to be against him. Billy is living in a back-to-back with a care-worn Mum who hardly notices he's there, and an older brother (from a different father) who is already embittered with his lot in life, and grimly determined to make life just as miserable as he can for Billy. He is usually cold, dirty and hungry. The novel starts with Billy and his brother waking up (they have to share a bed) on a cold winter's morning. All these domestic episodes, and the episodes at school, are both funny and pathetic. They are a perfect embodiment of the stoic Northern working-class attitude, "If you didn't laugh you'd cry." At every step of the way Billy's chances are thwarted. He is despised by his classmates and bullied unmercifully by his PE teacher, who has delusions of grandeur. He has no friends, and can't even do simple things like joining a public library, because nobody will speak up for him. He is one of society's castoffs. Yet he tries to make a success of things. He has a paper round to earn enough money to feed the wild creatures he rears and loves so much, and occasionally shopkeepers take pity on him and give him a few scraps. He is misread at every stage. Perhaps the careers officer could have helped. By this time Billy has gained an enormous knowledge of wildlife, but all anyone can see is that he is destined to go down t'pit. He has one rare friend, a teacher who sees his potential, and like the reader, is staggered by how much he has achieved against all the odds. But we know it cannot end well. The teacher has little power, and probably little conception of Billy's problems, or just how precious, fragile and hard-earned is his experience with the hawk. Even Billy himself appreciates that "Sir" cannot really understand. The teacher quickly drifts out of the novel, and out of Billy's world.The book is beautifully written. The events are described candidly, with a great sense of authenticity and much humour and pathos. Some of the dialogue is in dialect, and whereas I personally have no problem with, "Gee-o'er!" I can see that other readers may have to internally translate this as "Give over" - and again as "Stop doing that!" But mostly I would say that the dialogue's meanings are obvious from the context.The descriptions gave me pause. For this is a world which has gone. At the time the novel was published it was notable for its description of social problems, situations and inequalities. Now however, in retrospect, the reader can see that it is a snapshot of a world which has partly disappeared. We still have the deprivation, the poverty, the inequality. But today's equivalents of Billy will be living on an estate with no access to the countryside, and probably little freedom to explore as he did. Only a few years later the high-rise flats would spring up all over. A few years after that, when vandalism and burglary were on the increase, the realisation came that these structures were not a solution to poverty. All the planners had done, was to destroy any sense of community, and consequently much of the self-identity of those who had been forcibly moved there. But even when most of the highrises had been torn down, the countryside was never to return."A cushion of mist lay over the fields. Dew drenched the grass, and the occasional sparkling of individual drops made Billy glance down as he passed. One tuft was a silver fire. The drop had almost forced the blade of grass to the earth, and it lay in the curve of the blade like the tiny egg of a mythical bird. Billy moved his head from side to side to make it sparkle, and when it caught the sun it exploded ..."Billy walks for miles. He observes Nature in a way urban children now will never know. He has an escape which they can never imagine. For of course, the novel is packed with metaphor. Billy's life equals prison. The natural world represents something better; something soaring and free, a bit of magic. When he wanders, different locations are described; the neglected areas full of litter, the neat little houses, each with their tiny square of lawn proudly maintained by their owners. When Bill writes an essay at school, he heart-rendingly describes an interior of such a house he has glimpsed on his paper round. He yearns for such comfort. He even at one tragic stage runs to his mother for a hug, but there is none forthcoming. She is merely embarrassed.Reading the detailed descriptions of Nature seen through Billy's eyes, the accounts of how he trained his hawk through his own blood, sweat and tears, made me realise that this is something we have lost. The world is now totally different. The poverty and deprivation which exists now is not always due to money. Barry Hines cannot have known that not only was he writing a book which would be a classic of social realism, but also a depiction of a microcosm which was about to crumble. There is an added poignancy. You will weep for all the Billy Caspers of this world. Little scraps of humanity whom nobody cares about. Cast aside, neglected and unloved, bullied; they have to make their own way through life as best they can. Hope sometimes sparks in them for something better. Perhaps sometimes their determination wins through, as did that of the author. We would say that he "dragged himself up by his bootstraps". But it is all too easy to sink into the mire of lethargy.Is that what would happen to Billy Caspar? I defy you to read this book without getting a big lump in your throat."..there's Billy Casper there wi' his pet hawk." I could shout at 'em: it's not a pet, Sir, hawks are not pets. Or when folks stop me and say "Is it tame?" Is it heck tame, it's trained that's all. It's fierce an' it's wild, an' it's not bothered about anybody, not even about me, right. And that's why it's great ... They can keep their rabbits an' their cats an' their talkin' budgies, they're rubbish compared wi' her."

  • Becky
    2019-02-07 14:32

    Ok, so I simply don't understand some people. Now I'm adding 'people who have given kestrel for a knave fewer than four star reviews' to the list of people I don't understand. They seem to be missing the point. So the book, I would not advise anyone looking for a comfortable reading experience to pick this one up, it is uncomfortable from the start. The life it describes is bleak and heartbreakingly deprived. Billy Casper quite literally has nothing, his brother (with whom he has to share a bed) is a violent brutal drunk, his mother has a reputation as the local bike and zero maternal instinct. It appears that Billy's father gave attention and even love but that came to an end when he caught Billy's mother with 'Uncle Mick' and he is now out of the picture. Billy has turned his back on the gang he used to hang out with, so is left with no real friends, he does poorly at school and it seems that all but one of his teachers have given up on him. He seems destined to have to go to work in the local pit, alongside his brute of a brother. The one thing he does have is a way with animals, something he has used to train a hawk. Everyone knows that this one light in his life will be snuffed out, but it is the whole story which is heartwrenching. Using local dialect throughout brings the characters to life, while the lyrical descriptions of the countryside and of the falconry contrast with the brutal surroundings of the town and estate. This is stark social realism. The scene in the showers following a lost football match are among the most disturbing that I have ever read, and the indifference shown by Billy's mother over the fate of his beloved Kes encapsulates the indifference Billy meets everywhere. For me it was Billy's tall story which really brought a lump to my throat. The ending is terribly inconclusive but we can see how things will continue for this child with little or no chance of escape.

  • Emma
    2019-01-25 14:26

    A wonderfully raw picture of Northern life. It's bleak and gritty, and written extremely well. Billy Casper is one of life's underdogs, he bears the brunt of everyone's exasperation with their own lives. This includes his bullying brother, his selfish mother, his fellow pupils at school and most of the teachers. He lives for his hawk and Kes is a metaphor for how free he wishes he were. It's a marvellous book and I couldn't recommend it more. It makes me proud to hail from South Yorkshire.

  • Ray
    2019-02-04 07:34

    A slim volume outlining the life of a young lad in the North of England in the 60s. A tale of gritty realism.Billy Caspar is bullied at home and at school. He lives on a rough council estate with his mother and brother, his father having walked out long ago. A succession of "Uncles" flit through his and his mothers life. Money is very tight, and occasional petty thievery is one way of getting by. Billy is disinterested in school and the teachers have essentially written him off as pit fodder (England still had a coal industry at the time). Ill at ease with people, understandably distrusting of his family and school peers, Billy has a natural affinity with nature. He finds and trains a kestrel chick, showing great intelligence, skill and patience. The kestrel soon becomes the anchor of his life, sole consoler amongst the rebukes and slaps and daily humiliations resulting from being small, poor and awkward in a tough arena.Billy's story is told by Barry Hines with charm and affection, without it being sugar coated. There are episodes of humour bringing sharp relief to the generally bleak tone of a life on the way to being wasted. Sad but life affirming in a "bollocks to the world" kind of way.Billy deserves his place in the Northern cultural pantheon with the likes of Morrissey, Mark E Smith, Les Dawson, Cissie and Ada, Nora Batty, Barnstoneworth United, Wallace and Gromit, Jim Royle, Paul and Pauline Calf et al. Read for the second time at an interval of forty years. I had forgotten just how good this book is so it was a welcome re-read. Well worth a read. I believe the film is good too.

  • Robert
    2019-01-21 13:12

    It took me 40p to get truely involved in this story - approx. 1/4 of the book. That quarter sets the background for what is to come in the remainder, when the protagonist, Billy, goes to school and one day shows the hilarity, banality, hopelessness and tragedy that surely will be a microcosm of Billy's whole life.For me, school was not nearly so grim as for Billy, but I could relate strongly to his experience; casual cruelty (from teachers), injustice, bullying, that one teacher who is still capable of seeing pupils as human beings, fighting a losing battle against the indifference of all the others. Best days of our lives? I always thought that was some kind of sick joke. I was never so glad as to be out of that environment. Billy is 15 and will shortly be out of it, too. He doesn't have the fun and excitement of University and myriad possibilities afterward to look forward to, though. He's not that bright and there aren't many options. All he really knows is that he doesn't want to go down the pit. A mine that twenty years later would probably be closed, like almost every other in Britain, leaving him almost middle aged with no useful skills, not that he or the author would have known that. Since his father left home, his mother is going through the motions of raising him, more interested in her affairs, his brother hates him and there's little money. About the only thing Billy has of any value, and that to him alone, is the kestrel he trained himself. Is that enough?Powerful, simple writing carries this story of working class northern Britain in the 1960s to an end likely to induce despair.

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    2019-01-26 12:15

    A Kestrel for a Knave is a day in the very difficult life of a young man in a terribly poor part of England. Billy finds little happiness---not at home with his mother and brother, not at school with his (mostly) cruel teachers and taunting peers---in his life. It is only when he trains a hawk that he feels peace. Because I work with many, many children who come from the 2017 American version of the main characters in Kestrel, I found the story to be like walking with a poor kid for a whole day. I was appalled by that walk, especially by the actions of some of my educational peers of that time and place. It felt like a visit to a foreign land, though it wasn't just because of the setting; poverty of that sort is outside my personal experience, and, I imagine, completely outside the experience of most of our leaders, the people who make decisions, in theory, for the people of their organizations and all the people they represent. This is what life is like for so many children. A Kestrel for a Knave is a vivid picture of life for working class people everywhere. Policymakers...voters...teachers...this is a book you should read.

  • martin
    2019-01-21 10:23

    My nephew and then my niece recently read this for their GCSEs and both hated it. The exact opposite reaction to their Mother and two Uncles. Maybe it's a generation gap thing - especially as our childhood was less comfortable and therefore maybe a little closer to that of the child in the novelIt's still one of my all time favourites.

  • Anne
    2019-02-03 07:23

    A masterpiece - why have I not read this before now??

  • YorkshireSue
    2019-02-11 10:28

    An absolute favourite of mine. I'm dating myself but it was recommended for our O level English Literature and I fell totally in love with it. It broke all the rules I understood about writing and is so gritty yet heartwrenching. No chapters just a sit down straight through read. As skinny and forthright as Billy Casper himself. You won't regret reading it (just try finding it!)

  • Lostaccount
    2019-01-24 13:08

    A boy who doesn't have the ability to articulate his pain finds solace in nature. It's a kitchen sink drama that is elevated by the moving depiction of Billy's "silent" suffering. I feel a bit ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, I was moved by the fatherless, friendless, semi-literate Billy Casper's plight, the cruelty he suffers, his isolation, his struggle living in poverty with a cruel brother (Jud) and a cold unsympathetic tart of a mother. I could identify with him, having grown up in similarly emotionally-tough circumstances (although in the South of England). But I found some of the writing too dense, especially some of the descriptive passages which felt like padding half the time. The attention to detail from Billy's Pov should have had a reason; if Billy was suffering from asperger's then it would have made sense, but it's unlikely the author had such an intention since this book was written in 1968. It's a gritty, raw, and powerful book nonetheless, especially in describing the British school system of decades ago, and ultimately nihilistic. But the thing that almost ruined it for me was the afterword by the author Barry Hines where he expresses his sympathy with Jud, with what Jud does to Billy at the end in particular, and says he later disliked using so much "Yorkshire dialogue" (where they all talk like characters in "the room at t'top"), which I don't agree with because I think it adds authenticity. The afterword was like seeing the magician in Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. Sort of ruined the magic.

  • Pete daPixie
    2019-01-23 14:32

    'A Kestrel for a Knave' is very close to home for me. It's author, Barry Hines is a native of my local landscape. The council estate setting reminds me of my childhood years. The British education system of the 1950's and 1960's is starkly portrayed with a clarity that evokes it's regimented ranks of private canings, corporal punishments and major failings. There were very many personal memories that resurfaced while reading this book. I knew many a Billy Casper. The home life too was familiar. Waking up in the cold and dark winter. No heating. After school I was first home and had the chore of 'making the fire' that Hines describes in exact detail.The book was successfully adapted for the silver screen in the sixties. Resulting in the Ken Loach film 'Kes'. Memorable for me by Mr Sugden's school football game, the part taken by Brian Glover.It is decades since I saw the film, so reading this book for the first time was a fresh experience. Brilliant writing that captures succinctly the 'northern' working class existence.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-01-27 12:33

    False alarum - came across this book as a youngster (can't say "when I was smaller" because I didn't grow much further). I remember crying like a real cry baby at the injustice of it all and then the film was on at the local odeon and cried some more. It starred the lad who played Oliver in Lionel Bart's brilliant rendition of Dickens's masterpiece.So pretty much done and dusted.

  • Cherie
    2019-01-26 14:15

    I loved this book. I saw the movie a long time ago, and came across the book by accident.

  • Jo Verity
    2019-02-11 15:28

    I read this straight after reading 'H is for Hawk'. I've never read it before or seen 'Kes' but I was interested to see how the two books compared. I'm afraid I got a lot more from Barry Hines's short novel. Fictional schoolboy Billy Casper loves and depends on his kestrel in the same way Helen MacDonald depended on Mabel. But I could empathise with Billy, feel his pain, far more readily than with H M. there is one passage where Billy explains to his (only sympathetic) teacher and classmates how he trained Kes and how he flies his bird. His explanation takes up no more than a couple of pages and is written in the simplest language yet I absolutely 'got' why he loved the kestrel and everything it stood for. The end is inevitable yet gutting. Brilliant writing.

  • Hobb Whittons
    2019-02-18 12:07

    Reading Barry Hines' classic again was something of a revelation. Before I started, I couldn't help wondering if the effect it had had on me thirty odd years ago could possibly be repeated, since I'm now what my son describes as a 'grumpy old man' (harsh, I feel, but I do get his drift). Anyway, 'A Kestrel For A Knave' did it all over again for me; in fact, I think it dug deeper into my gut than ever. The panorama of 'colours'(some beautiful beyond description, others enough to burn out your eyes with despair) painted By Hines on his gritty canvas takes my breath away.To its genre classification, the following ought to be added: Heineken (remember the tag line in their commercials from long ago?)

  • Steve Shilstone
    2019-02-04 13:35

    Beautifully written, sort of a Jack London and Roddy Doyle mixture.

  • Galine
    2019-02-11 15:34

    This book left me gutted.It's about how misunderstood and alone youth can feel in the world, and the importance of compassion, empathy & understanding in a world that severely lacks such qualities.

  • Valancourt Books
    2019-02-18 14:25

    Now available:HardcoverWebsite | Amazon USPaperbackWebsite | Amazon USeBookWebsite | Amazon US

  • Alisa
    2019-01-27 11:32

    By gum, but Yorkshire is bleak. I've had this book for several years, and I've always put off reading it, because why would I want to be that depressed. Not only is it going to be poor, and bleak, and stunted, and deprived, and mean, there's going to be an wild animal that is the heart and soul and light for one of these inarticulate tragedies of DNA. And what does that mean for that animal, so the author can keep a realistic vision of a relentlessly hard-life, smashed on broken homes, bottles and betting-shops? Go on, I bet you can guess.And you'd be absolutely right.(Now that I'm done being snide, I'll say that I think this is book is now supposed to be a classic. There's a lot of 'sensitive' prose about the natural world, the countryside, which, though I love me some countryside, I found kind of boring. As for the realism, it was so real I felt like I was being taught a lesson. The main character kid isn't really likable. The author does a great job of showing that it's not his fault that he's not likable, he's a product of his environment, etc & etc. But the author also does a really good job of showing that this kid has zero chance of getting out of his environment, and his environment is going to go on perpetuating kids like him, and systematically quashing out any glimmer they have of human decency. I guess that's social criticism - which isn't very popular these days, at least not without some of that fun, shiny irony stuff. This book = zero irony.When I was a grade-schooler back in the 80s, I never did go in for those "real-life" children's books where they stopped pandering to children and reflected real world problems like leukemia and dead parents and inner-city poverty. I preferred being pandered to, preferably with ponies. ... I guess I was wrong. I'm not done being snide.)

  • Winered200
    2019-02-15 11:22

    I was moved through this entire book. I did not cry though, not once, not even at the ending. This book is raw and you feel for Billy. Sometimes even relate. He just has the entire world against him(except for that one nice teacher) and all he wants is to be left alone. He's a target, an easy one it seems like, but he does not ever back down when he's picked at. As mentioned in an early "review" of the book I had a hard time adjusting to the speaking language, but I found myself after 50 pages or so reading it without any problems. It became rather fun, different.His best friend is a Hawk he's trained and decides to call Kes. It truly is an amazing read, the way Hines describes Billy talking about her. It's not even a lot of adjectives, it's just the way you know Billy talks about her, the training and his knowledge about it. I could picture him before me, a small boy, bursting with excitement to tell about this animal friend of his.It's slow at first and hard to get into, but I TRULY do recommend you to keep going. Once you get to the Kes-part, you're stuck. I guarantee this.

  • Bob
    2019-02-02 12:06

    Originally called A Kestrel for a Knave, a medieval poetic reference, the simplified title of Kes for the film version now goes on the cover while the title page retains the original.My second-hand copy includes this inscription from giver to recipient- "Dear Andy, This is not marvelous literature but it is valid social comment."Very much in the vein of Alan Sillitoe or Stan Barstow, the story is a cheerless picture of Northern English working class life in a council estate in the 60s. The main character is a boy called Billy Casper whose family is a particularly broken one and his school, from which he is on the verge of dropping out, has a single engaged and caring teacher amongst the usual set of sadists; the description of a PE class should seem quite familiar to some readers. The sole bright spot in Billy's life are the hours spent training a kestrel hawk that he has managed to capture. The story does not end with him becoming an internationally famous trainer of raptors.

  • Keith
    2019-02-17 11:30

    First read this at school - now over 40 years ago and it was probably my first 'serious' book.There is no praise high enough for this book. A searing look at the working class in the Yorkshire mining village of Barnsley, where hope has been virtually extinguished for a teenage boy until a kestrel comes into his life. Be aware there is Yorkshire dialect, but don't be put off.if anything the Ken Loach film is better than the book and is highly recommended. It pulls no punches in its depiction of life at the bottom of the pile. For those who have seen "Cathy Come Home", the BBC drama about homelessness that was instrumental in changing the law in the UK, this has a similar look and feel to it.

  • Robbie Haigh-mclane
    2019-02-18 09:06

    I had an urge whilst drifting through a not-so exciting read to read a classic. I stumbled in my mind on thoughts of English literature at school. Read the book, watch the film, dissect the characters etc etc. A kestrel for a knave was my choice. I tried to establish the message in the text and the words that arise from the story. I'd have almost love to read a prequel of the troubles and strife Billy and Jud's upbringing, father(s), mothers background and friendships or lack of them. As a fellow Yorkshire man I shouldn't have struggled with the dialect but t'd soon flowed back. A great book, full of youthful nostalgia pain and sorrow snot and tears. Brotherly love!

  • James MacIntyre
    2019-01-31 10:21

    "Slack work lad, slack work.""Hands off cocks, on socks.""Where's me pillocking bike?"Aims in life: 1) Be a teacher like Mr Farthing.2) Don't be a teacher like Mr Sugden.

  • Carla
    2019-02-06 14:20

    Rarely do I feel such agonising empathy for a character as I did for Billy Casper; and this, after watching the movie first. This book is like a raw wound.

  • Rosemary
    2019-02-07 09:08

    Painful story of a boy growing up on a deprived northern estate in the 1960s, and the hawk who became his only companion.A tough read because I just wanted to take Billy out of that situation.

  • Bill Kendall
    2019-02-07 12:34

    Billy finds a spark that creates warm glow in his difficult life. The reader is provided with hope that the world is inherently a good place, and that Billy will thrive with his passion for falconry. This is of course destroyed by an unpleasant older brother. The moral of this story is don't piss off your older brother or he will make your life hell.Also I was on the train going to work when things became unsavoury. I went to work feeling pretty down about the Kestrel and the Knave and things did not get any better from there.

  • Kaethe
    2019-02-14 11:27

    Too bleak for me

  • Bernadette Robinson
    2019-01-22 07:11

    3.5 stars rather than 3. This is the book that the film Kes was based on. I've seen the film many times over the years but I sadly can't remember a lot about it. When I was given the chance to read the book recently it was like a blast from the past. The book was well written and was very reminiscent of the years that it was set in, the late 60's. The story takes place in one day and is told in real time with a series of flashbacks in time. It's a classic and a thought provoking slow burner.Billy Casper is a loner and comes from a deprived family in the North. He is from a one parent family, he lives with his Mum and shares a bedroom with his brother Jud. As the day begins Billy has to do his paper round on foot due to his brother having taken his bike to go to work on. A lot of the story takes place in and around his School. During one of his lessons he tells the class about his Kestrel and Mr Farthing his teacher becomes very interested in his pet.Billy is the boy that is always the last to get picked for the team in sports and as some of the action takes place during a Football match this becomes quite integral to the story. Bullied by his team mates and games teacher you feel for him, as events spiral out of control and make him late visiting Kes. One crucial event and a badly made judgement by Billy, become very instrumental to the outcome of the story.If you've not read the book or watched the film I suggest that you do one or the other soon. Reading the book has made me want to watch the film again.

  • Nikki
    2019-01-28 10:25

    I think the other English group read A Kestrel for a Knave, back at GCSE, but it never really appealed to me. Still, it was there today at the library, so I picked it up. It's pretty short, and there are no chapters. It's kind of an odd format to tell a story, just like maybe a boy is sat down and spilling out his story without thinking of how to structure it. Which makes sense, of course, considering the main character. It's pretty grim, too. Working class life in England back when teachers could still hit students, etc, etc.I found some of it lovely -- particularly the way Billy opens up to talk about Kes, and the way one of his teachers treats him kindly. The story he writes for the class is a little heart-breaking in how simple his little lies are; for his brother to be gone, his father to be home, teachers to actually like him.I don't feel like I have much to say about it, in the end, though. I wish I did -- obviously it's worth studying and thinking about, but I just didn't connect with it much -- for all that it's set near where I grew up.