I first read Watching Jimmy a few weeks ago and ended up so frustrated with the book, I had to hide it on a shelf where I couldn’t see it. After a few days consideration, I decided that I would read it again and give the book another shot. While I can say I’m glad that I read it again, I cannot say that I would recommend this book.
In the novel, twelve-year-old Carolyn witnesses her friend Jimmy’s uncle abuse him, resulting in an accident that is permanently scarring to Jimmy’s mental and physical abilities. Jimmy’s uncle tells a completely different story than what happened, painting it as an accident in which he is not at fault. Carolyn holds this secret tight as everyone deals with the change in Jimmy and his need for medical attention. That’s basically all you need to know. Carolyn is way too mature to be a twelve-year-old. The story jumps around through so many themes that you just feel lost most of the time, trying to decipher what exactly you are supposed to glean from the story. Carolyn mentions a few too many times the limitations of being a “child.” And the character of Ted, the uncle, is way too under-developed to even put all of the themes and characters together.
I will say this: the writing is good. The language is good, the scenes are easy to follow, but the novel as a whole is all over the place.
And, I’m shocked to say, this novel won the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children Award. Seriously, shocked. I honestly dislike giving such negative reviews of books, but I felt the need to this time. Also, this is the second book read and reviewed for my Canadian Reading Challenge, so I did need to give it a fair and posted review.
by Nancy Hartry
Published by Tundra Books