There is no place in the world for cruelty. When it comes to children, it becomes tragic from a distance, but catastrophic up close. Children have incredible coping mechanisms and the more difficult their circumstances, the more they find clever coping mechanisms which often blind the outside world, to the enormity of their pain.
In writing Little Big Boy, I wanted to look at this notion from the child’s perspective. The main character, a nameless boy, is for most of the story just seven years old. He is given a voice to tell his story and he tells it as only a small boy would. There is confusion, misinterpretation and misunderstanding. He knows right from wrong, he understands kindness, love and affection. His connection to and understanding of the world, is drawn from his loving mother. Sadly, he also encounters violence and abuse and making sense of these terrible things, is an enormous struggle for him. He is still a baby in many ways and when his status as the youngest member of the family is usurped by his new sister, he feels that he has to move up a step and wants to become a big boy.
It is from this internal conflict, between hanging on to his mother’s special affection as the baby of the family and his desire to be considered a big boy to the rest of the world, that I found the title for my book. But this is a book about more than a boy seeking affection or coping with his growing pains. Little Big Boy examines the impact that violence and abuse can have on a child so young.
I placed my little boy in a world with which I was familiar, working class Dublin in the early 1970’s. That gave me a point of reference, but the emotions the pain and suffering, the love, joy and loss are universal and timeless. As adults, we impose our reasoning on children, assuming often that they rationalise as we do. It is a mistake that sometimes leaves us oblivious to the damage done to the most vulnerable in our society.
Children have a right to be loved and I ensured that Little Big Boy enjoyed that right, through his connection to his mother. But it is not enough to assume that love alone is sufficient protection from the harshness of the world. This particular little boy suffers at the hands of his father, the teachers in school, his peers and significantly through everything that he has to face, he manages to continue to function to the outside world, as though everything is normal.
As a writer I invest my emotions in my characters. That’s how it works for me. Writing little Big Boy was at times, quite an emotionally difficult task, but it was certainly a rewarding one. My little boy has something that I had when I was seven, which is an enquiring mind. He questions things and often accepts his own muddled up understanding of reality, when he has no outside explanation for the cruel nature of what is happening all around him. My Little Big Boy of the story, sees the adult world as confusing. The contradictions that surround the moral code that is preached to him by the Christian brothers in school, only seem to apply sometimes and only to some people. He want to be a little boy so his mother will love him as she did when he was the baby. He wants to be a big boy so he can protect her from his father and importantly, protect himself. Somewhere in the middle of his dilemma, he has to find room for morality. It is a confused morality, but one he believes is important. What his Mam teaches him is important. In school and church, he discovers teachings of heaven and hell where the consequences for being bad, are too terrifying to contemplate. It becomes not just about being little or big, it becomes very much about being a good little boy.
I don’t ever write to offer my opinion or present a message, but in this particular case, I hope Little Big Boy will resonate with the people who read it, so they might become more aware of the vulnerable ones around us who often suffer in silence. When fear takes over, when confusion reigns, small children if left to cope on their own, find their own solutions to create a logic, for their must be one. In allowing them to be placed in such fear, by ignoring the precious among us when they are most in need, we surrender to the cruelty of the world and let it win. Little Big Boy is about one child’s struggle to make sense of his terrible environment. This little boy lacks direction and is guided by his own wits and limited understanding of the world. The results are sometimes heart-breaking. It is a sad tale, but it is also uplifting and filled with a special kind of hope…The hope of a child.
Little Big Boy is available to download now on amazon
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy, all available on amazon to download or in paperback.
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : – http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower