The Weight of a Thousand Feathers book cover

Book Review: The Weight of a Thousand Feathers - Brian Conaghan

17 year old Bobby Seed has too much on his plate. Any time not spent at school studying for his 'A' Levels is spent at home looking after his mother, who suffers from MS, and his younger brother Danny, who has his own needs.

When Bobby’s school counsellor suggests he joins a young carers’ support group, he is torn between the desire to have some time away from his responsibilities and the guilt at not being there for his family. He decides to give it a go - with his best friend Bel helping out at home while he’s away.

And so he meets a group of scared and lost teens, all hiding their fears behind a wall of cynicism. On top of everything else, Bobby finds himself falling for the group’s American bad boy, Lou - he’s never really had the luxury of time or headspace to even think about romance before.

But then his mother asks him to do something for her, and Bobby Seed is never the same again.

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers was an emotional and powerful read - not surprising given the topic. What was surprising was just how much humour there was in the book. A large part of how Bobby related to his Mum and Bel was through humour - who would have thought that the last line of a book about teen carers and euthanasia would make me laugh out loud?!

Early on I was struck by the realisation that I am of a similar age to Bobby’s mum - same cultural references, same taste in music - which definitely helped crank up the empathy on my part.

This book could be a powerful aid in an ethics class on euthanasia1, but definitely one for older students: on top of some very emotional and upsetting interactions between Bobby and his mum, there are also a few scenes of drug taking.

I would definitely recommend this book to older teens who like to keep a box of tissues handy when reading!

Here's a video from the Scottish Book Trust of the author talking about his book

 

This review originally appeared on the Reading Zone website. Thanks to the Reading Zone and the publishers for the review copy.

 

Asides

  1. Bloomsbury have produced a free Teaching Guide for the book aimed at upper KS4 English, PSHE and Citizenship classes.