Book Review: What I Did by Christopher Wakling

What I Did by Christopher WaklingThis book sounded intriguing (see description below). I didn’t know what to expect, and the story was totally different from the possible scenarios I had in mind. I loved reading this story, not only because of the way innocent Billy tells it, but also because it made me angry, frustrated and cringe. All in a good way, of course.

What I Did: What it is about

Description from the publishers: “Six-year-old Billy has a vivid imagination and a unique way of explaining the world. But when he runs into a busy street, ignoring his father’s commands, he sets in motion a series of unexpected, family-altering events. What I Did is an astounding and heart-wrenching reminder of how the best intentions can lead to disastrous consequences, and one bad decision can take on a life of its own.”

What I Did: What I thought

I loved reading this story. Six-year old Billy made a great narrator. He told most of the story in his own words, but the adult conversations were left as they were, so the reader doesn’t get a filtered dialogue from the adults (through Billy), but one as it really happened.

Billy is rather precocious for his age, which is recognised in the book, by his parents, by the teacher. However, some of the words he uses I wasn’t convinced about (like when something new happens, he says “I wanted to tell Dad about this development”, the latter word being a bit big for a six year old). On the other hand, certain big words he clearly knows from the David Attenborough nature programmes that he likes to watch all the time. Other words, that obviously are never used in such programmes, he doesn’t know.

This book is about adults not understanding, and therefore misinterpreting, a small boy’s mind. More generally, it’s about communication, also between adults. The story is frustrating but oh-so believable. I was commenting all the way “Come on, listen more carefully to that boy! He isn’t saying that!”, or “Why did he (not) do that? That’s so stupid!”, or “Come on, people. Back off. You’re making a big thing out of a little one.” So, that was fun! I enjoy it when I have an opinion about the story that’s unfolding and that was certainly the case here.

The pivotal event (involving a brick wall) was described by Billy in a very odd way – only this way could the story evolve as it did, but to me, it wasn’t very believable that he would talk about it in this way (and that adults would understand him wrongly about it). Otherwise, the story was very believable.

Anyone who likes to read about miscommunication or not communicating at all and what the consequences can be should read this book.

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 282

First published: 2011 (UK, this USA edition 2012)

I got this book: from William Morris (HarperCollins) for review

Genre: contemporary fiction

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

10 Responses to Book Review: What I Did by Christopher Wakling

  1. Sounds good. I will remember the name Christopher Wakling (never heard of him before) and may buy the book if I run into it.

  2. You did it again, Judith, this sounds like a book for me.

  3. Mystica says:

    Sounds good reading. Thank you for the review.

  4. Sounds like a great book, sorta reminds me of The Room by Emma Donoghue. Excellent review.

  5. Stephanie says:

    This sounds very intriguing, especially the idea of an author capturing the ways adults underestimate and misunderstand bright young children.

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