- Title: Shadows
- Author: Tim Bowler
- Publisher: OUP
- ISBN: 9780192754554
“Shadows” is a gritty, uncompromising book and also, unusually, a boy’s love story. It focuses on Jamie, a fifteen-year-old squash prodigy and his relationship with his overbearing father, who is determined that his son will achieve the success he himself never enjoyed and drives the boy to a point almost beyond endurance.
Then Jamie finds a girl hiding in his shed, and in helping her to escape from the danger that is pursuing her, he is at last able to deal with his own problems. He realises that he can’t run away for ever. He has to come out of the shadows and face up to his father, whatever the cost
The main character Jamie, is the son of a talented squash player, and is destined (at least as far as his father is concerned) to not only follow in his footsteps, but succeed where he failed.
Winning is everything, and if Jamie fails to meet his fathers expectations then the consequences are swift and painful, and force Jamie into himself, until is almost a shadow.
It is after one such failure, he is forced to walk home alone. Taking a shortcut across the local allotments, he comes across a heavily pregnant girl of around his own age hiding in his family’s shed.
The girl is obviously scared and Jamie quickly resolves to help her, and in turn himself, a decision that ultimately puts both their lives at risk, when as the girls secrets are revealed, and her past catches up with her, they are both forced to go on the run.
I’ll be honest, this isn’t my favourite book Tim Bowler has written, there are a few co-incidences that feel a little too contrived for that. However that does not mean this is a bad book by-any-means, it isn’t.
Much like Almond, Bowler is an expert and weaving emotion and meaning though his prose, and the story that develops between Jamie and the girl is as much about the power and importance of friendship – no matter how fleeting or long-standing, as it is about the danger they find themselves in.
The bond that develops between the two as they firstly run for their lives and then later as the gives birth to her child, helps them both grow in ways that they didn’t expect. And for Jamie to finally step put of the shadows and face up to his problems.