Biographies and Memoirs

A Normal Boy: Living in an Asylum

Category:Biographies and Memoirs

Author:Jan Keating

  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Publication Date: January 4, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 345
  • ISBN-10: 165189938X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1651899380

A Normal Boy: Living in an Asylum by Jan Keating is a poignant exploration of a young boy's harrowing journey through abuse, abandonment, and the disturbing realities of the Dirty Thirties in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. It is the story of Donald, an eight-year-old boy, who tragically loses his father, setting off a chain of events that leads to his placement in a mental hospital. Donald’s father has been a symbol of hope in his life and the strength of the family, but after his death, Donald’s mother decides to marry Frank, the hired hand to save the farm. But Frank orders Donald’s mother to make the heart-wrenching decision to send her son away. Can Donald survive life in an asylum?

Keating has crafted a story that will touch readers deeply. The pathos is strong and the young protagonist instantly captures the sympathy of readers. The story’s premise is very strong and the conflict skillfully developed. Losing a father is already a painful experience for a young boy like Donald but being forced to live in an asylum without having a mental condition is even more devastating. The first-person narrative voice makes the story compelling and allows readers insights into the psyche and the inner turmoil of the young protagonist. The images of the loving gestures between his late father and his mother provide a contrasting angle to the horrors that befall him after his father dies. Keating's exploration of the historical backdrop of the Thirties and World War II adds authenticity to the narrative. The challenges faced by families during this tumultuous period are vividly drawn in this mesmerizing tale. The superb handling of the psychological implications of this tale balances with the social conditions to offer a unique reading experience. A Normal Boy: Living in an Asylum is a poignant tale that is inspired by true events and a story that will leave readers reflecting on the profound consequences of choices made during challenging times. Donald’s pain is visceral, his trauma is so wonderfully explored and the cruelty he experiences in the asylum makes him a character that is hard to forget. 

Reviewed By: Matthew Novak

Reviewed Date: December 22, 2023

Category: Biographies and Memoirs