There is no doubt in my mind that Tom Houghton is a book that is going to touch the hearts of many, many readers. Told in duel narratives--one featuring forty year old Tom Houghton and another featuring Tom Houghton at age twelve--this is a novel about bullying and self acceptance. The young Tom is naive, book smart and often bullied. Life is tough living in the suburbs of Sydney, especially for kids who are a bit different. Tom finds solace in old Hollywood movies and a possible connection between himself and actress Katherine Hepburn, which, along with a little self-deception, he uses to create a new identity for himself. Meanwhile, the forty year old version of Tom Houghton, who has gone on to be an actor, is well, something of a bastard. He's the kind of guy who pushes away all the people who care about him--his lovers, his friends, his family and even his daughter. This book speaks very much of how we are shaped by the experiences that we have (or must endure,) when we are young and, particularly, how childhood bullying can have an impact on the victim even many, many years after it happened.
This book has so many wonderful, positive selling points, that I am sorry to report that I did not enjoy reading it more--I think it is one that I may have to pick up and read again at some stage, as the book left me feeling quite emotional at various stages. I have to admit that I was satisfied by the ending, though, so author Todd Alexander is partially forgiven for leaving me an emotional wreck. (Damn you!) I am certain that there are many readers out there who will love this book, however, so I have no qualms about recommending it to others.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my review copy.