Title: The Unloved Boy
Author: Sharique Zea
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
The Unloved Boy relates the story of a teenager named Jason. Jason lost his birth parents at an impressionable age and now lives under the cruel thumb of abusive guardians. He toils away until weariness forces him to sleep before he drops. His adoptive parents lash out at any mistake, real or perceived. Jason is responsible for cleaning his own home, along with neighbors his parents have hired him out to. Jason is friendless, taking in random insects he encounters while working.
His fantasies provide solace during the darkest days, envisioning a world where Jason attends school and has parents who love him. A recurring dream has Jason speaking to a wise, old man who advises him to take flight from his captivity. Soon, Jason flees and winds up in London, living in a whole new world.
Author Sharique Zea takes a familiar path in fiction, the exploitation and abuse of youth, and places it in modern day England. Jason desires a shot at normalcy, whereas his foster parents see free labor. The grim circumstances that Jason deals with daily are offset with the escapism that inhabits his thoughts. But when an opportunity arises for Jason to educate himself due to kindness for a neighbor’s child, he seizes the chance to learn and grow as a person, even if he is unable to attend school. The plot of the story follows Jason’s transformation from hopeless to optimistic.
The melancholy that begins the book mercifully doesn’t linger for too long, as Jason’s development leads to self-liberation. The book begins to take a more positive direction as knowledge opens up Jason’s mind to a world of possibilities.
He possesses a kind-hearted nature, always wanting to help people. His love has never been reciprocated until he is adopted by a family in London. He retains a cautious optimism about his new family, due to the tribulations he previously experienced.
Jason is the centerpiece of the story, his poignant journey from mistreatment to a more stable home life forming the heart of the narrative. The pipe dream of attending school is now reality, the good days as well as the bad. As Jason begins to experience normalcy, he must learn to adapt. The author adeptly writes the “fish out of water” aspect of Jason’s circumstances in a credible way. Jason’s longing to be loved and accepted by family and peers makes him relatable.
Jason’s story is compelling but also resembles aspects of “Harry Potter” and “Cinderella,” the unwanted child who is subject to the whims and insults of despicable family members. The circumstances that led to Jason being in the care of the domineering Bill and Ariana Bynes is briefly mentioned, but merited more development. The relationship that Jason develops with a classmate is sweet but feels a little rushed in its timing, not allowing for a more natural progression.
The Unloved Boy is a heartfelt and endearing coming-of-age story that proves engaging from page one. Author Sharique Zea infuses Jason with a spirited soul and loving nature that arouses empathy for his plight and enthusiasm for his life’s improvement. This is a book that will reach out to young audiences far and wide.
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