The Paper Boy
Jacqueline J. Edgington
(Jacqueline J. Edgington, March 25, 2020)
“In Edgington’s sequel novel, a high-achieving schoolboy submits a short story for an assignment, and the grade that he receives comes back to haunt him. Fifteen-year-old Jack Hankins is used to being at the top of the class, so when he receives an F for a creative-writing assignment, breaking his run of A’s, he’s more than a little confused... Soon, the shocking grade begins to materialize in all corners of his life... It soon becomes obvious that something is fundamentally disrupting the nature of reality itself. Edgington’s debut novel, Happy Jack (2018), was concerned with Jack’s spiritual and emotional awakening as a child, and it was aimed at a younger audience. This time around, Jack is older, and the narrative has matured with him, transitioning from innocence to experience in a way not dissimilar to that in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. In this second novel, Happy Jack itself becomes a book within a book, taking the form of a sacred text that Jack needs to track down in order to understand his own identity. It’s an intriguing experiment that considers the roles of the character, the author, and fiction itself, and the narrative drifts between fantasy, bildungsroman, and surrealism in an ultimately accessible way. An unpredictable story about childhood, fate and fiction, written with warmth and a light touch.” - Kirkus ReviewsJack Hankins, is living the life of a privileged teenager. He was adopted into a family that created an idyllic home for him and his beloved sister, Bryony. Jack spends his time excelling at school and diligently delivering newspapers when he’s not hanging with his sister and best friends, Jamel and Ishvara. However, Jack is about to become more than just a paperboy. It all starts with a fateful school assignment to write a short story. Jack can’t seem to fight the story he pens in his journal – a nine-lined prophecy of what’s about to happen to him that sends him and his sister into panic. Jack can't explain why he wrote what he did, and he's tormented by the consequences of his first failing grade. Plagued by inexplicable and disturbing mysteries that question his reality, his survival is at stake when his world starts to crumble. On Jack’s sixteenth birthday, he, his sister, and his friends go to the mall as per tradition and see a movie. Their senses are heightened when they realize they’re the lone moviegoers in the theater, and then they’re watching a horror story play out on screen with characters who mirror themselves. Once they leave, the movie’s plot begins to become reality, just as the movie foretold.His nine-lined story is the catalyst for his downward spiral and leads him and his friends on a quest to confront the force that is tormenting him.