Read Between the Lies

Two very different boys, one new family, a shared struggle and a big secret.

Ryan didn’t want a new mum, let alone a new brother! But when his parents split up and his dad moves in with Naomi, she comes with Tommy – one year older, chucked out of his old school and now joining Ryan’s class. Great. Suddenly sharing a home and a classroom with a complete stranger is a bit much.

Flung together, the two boys clash, but gradually realise that they are more similar than they thought.

Zephyr

The dual perspectives of this story were brilliantly done, two distinct and realistic voices that wouldn’t have worked individually. I was gripped by the story, the way the relationship between the two boys developed, and the relationships with all the grownups. Tommy’s discovery of a secret (and what that secret was) kept my heart in my mouth for him. Also, the dyslexia friendly font is very readable!

Malcom Duffy has written a bit about the inspiration behind the story:

We all face challenges at some point in our lives. My parents divorced when I was a teenager. Many young people face struggles and I like to explore these in my stories, looking at how the drama unfolds, how different characters react to their problems, the mistakes they make along the way, and the solutions they find.

My latest teen novel, Read Between the Lines, is a story of dyslexia, drama and deceit. It tells the tale of 16 year old Ryan, and 17 year old Tommy, two teens who are from different parts of the country, with different backgrounds, and who go to different schools. But they have something in common– they’re both dyslexic. While Ryan has come to terms with his dyslexia and is succeeding at school, Tommy is in denial, and won’t seek support. Tommy’s issue comes to a head when he’s forced to face his greatest fear – reading in public. He turns to the one person he never thought he’d ask for help – Ryan.

The issue of lies also plays a big part in the story. We sometimes try to keep the truth hidden. This can be for many reasons – fear, shame, embarrassment, stubbornness. But lies can come back to haunt us. The novel explores how the truth, however painful, is always better than a lie.

So why did I pick on dyslexia as the theme for my new novel? My teenage daughter, Tallulah, has dyslexia, so I know first-hand about the issues involved, and the effects it can have. I also have experience in screenwriting and was fortunate enough to be asked to write a short film about dyslexia, called Mical. It tells the incredible real life story of Mike and Pat Jones, and how Pat helped her dyslexic son to read and write. Mike had been thrown out of various schools for being difficult, aggressive, and stupid. But his mum knew her son was bright, and that his behaviour was purely down to his learning difficulty. She developed her own teaching techniques to help Mike who went on to be a star pupil. Mike and Pat Jones then set up the online learning platform for dyslexics called Nessy. The film can be found on YouTube, where it’s had over 1.7 million views.

I thought dyslexia would make an unusual subject for a novel, as it’s very common, but often misunderstood. Some dyslexics don’t even know they have it. And it can have a  negative impact on lives unless it’s dealt with. I carried out a lot of research into the subject, with my daughter, other family members, as well as experts who have spent years dealing with dyslexia and its impact.

Huge numbers of young people battle with dyslexia. If left untreated it can lead to low self-esteem, behaviour problems, anxiety, aggression, withdrawal. While many get the help they need from parents, schools, specialists, many others don’t. I’d like dyslexics to realise there is help available, and that dyslexia is no barrier to leading a successful, fulfilling life. I’d like non-dyslexics to be more understanding of what it means to be dyslexic, to be kind, supportive, understanding.

I hope the book can achieve this and give the reader a story that is in turns, humorous and heart-warming.

 Malcolm Duffy

Malcolm Duffy (photo credit James W. Fortune)

Read Between the Lies by Malcolm Duffy is out now in hardback from Zephyr

Thank you to Fritha Lindqvist for organising a review copy and to Malcolm for his guest post

By Caroline Fielding on May 12, 2022 · Posted in Reviews, YA

Sorry, comments are closed on this post.