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The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  126 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews

This very moving memoir tells the story of a dramatic adolescence: Sixteen-year-old Keith Fleming's life is literally saved when his young uncle Ed, the writer Edmund White, impulsively agrees to "adopt" him.

Installed in the maid's room of his uncle's busy apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side where the phone never stops ringing, Keith soon finds himself transformed as

Published May 3rd 2000 by William Morrow
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 31, 2011 MariNaomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I enjoyed this book even more than the one I read earlier this year that was written by its star "character," Edmund White. Though not as fancy with words, Mr. Fleming does a great job giving the reader a clear visual of how he saw the world. It does a really good job peering into adolescent isolation, which is something I'd forgotten a lot about, and made me glad for the parents I had back then, as rocky as that relationship had been.
Nov 17, 2008 Angeline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Handed to me by my little brother who convinced me that the author was related to famed James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, (he isn't!), I read this book with very little expectations. However, after the first ten pages, I was hooked. Keith re-hashes his incredible life story with compelling words that made me not want to put down this book. A touching autobiography that takes its reader through the thoughts of Keith as a teenager, this book has everything it needs to be classified as a great read. ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Rogine rated it really liked it
I have a habit of wandering around the nonfiction aisle if our local library and checking out random memoirs that managed to catch my interest. Keith Fleming's The Boy with the Thorn in His Side was one of this memoirs and I cannot emphasize enough how glad I am I stumbled upon this rare gem. It followed the crazy roller coaster ride that is Fleming's adolescent life, and every page of the book is a wild loop that one simply cannot get enough of. This was indeed a thrilling ride from start to f ...more
How did an otherwise unknown young writer named Keith Fleming come out of nowhere to get his memoir published by a major publisher (William Morrow) back in 2000? Well, it really helped that Fleming’s uncle is noted author Edmund White, and even moreso that Fleming lived with White for a time during his quite turbulent adolescence in fast and easy mid-1970’s gay New York. Fleming is no Ed White but he’s a skilled and engaging writer nonetheless, and his book is a quick, entertaining diversion. I ...more
Jan 25, 2014 Jrivasmd rated it really liked it
Found this book donated to my bookshelf, by whom I'm not sure. So glad I read it. The author is the nephew of writer Edmund White, with whose work I am not (yet) familiar. It is a coming of age memoir written in 2000 by a young boy whose adolescence was notable for not being loved by anyone, including himself. Dumped by his father in an inpatient psychiatric unit, (a cheap stay if you have insurance), he meets the sadistic Dr. Schwartz and spirals deeper into depression. Aided by his mother, he ...more
Nov 10, 2011 Scott rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt, memoirs
Honestly, I was drawn to the Smiths' title of this memoir and was awarded the bonus surprise of this being about the nephew of Edmund White. While being pulled between divorced parents whose lifestyles did not include Keith, he accepts the invitation from Uncle Ed to live with him in NYC via the Chicago suburbs. Finally escaping the bughouse, Keith must adapt his academic and social life to mold into his new NY digs. All in all, this memoir was less about Keith and more about furthering the read ...more
Jan 07, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing
I found it disturbing to see how easy it was in the 1970's to put a child into mental institution for simply being a non-compliant teenager. Fleming's tale of his father's negligence and his uncle's giving spirit made this an interesting read. His uncle, Edmund White, is a writer, and after reading this memoir, I would love to read his novels.
Geri Hoekzema
Feb 12, 2014 Geri Hoekzema rated it really liked it
Ah, adolescence. More people would survive it intact if they had an Uncle Ed to take them in when everything gets to be too much. Those who didn't have a golden youth (this includes me) will be able to identify with many of Keith's experiences. Not an all-loose-ends-tied-neatly feel-good book, but full of hope anyway.
Tabitha Beck
Jul 22, 2010 Tabitha Beck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is simply stunning.
It is an articulate look at what this man went through as a teen-ager--both some appalling treatment by his father and step-mother--and some incredibly wonderful times with his uncle...and where he ended up after all the insanity.
Maureen Stanton
Jul 19, 2012 Maureen Stanton rated it liked it
This is a solid memoir, but (perhaps unfairly) one cannot help compare Fleming's book about his childhood and his relationship with his uncle, the brilliant Edmund white; he is not nearly the caliber writer his uncle is.
Jul 07, 2007 Debbie rated it it was amazing
someone once said this was a "best friend of a book," and as oblique as that sounds, I'd have to agree. It's like someone confiding in you when they're at their lowest low, but you still love them.

i'd read it again if i had a copy lying around.
Gila Gila
Jan 07, 2015 Gila Gila rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Odd that a memoir can be both moving and dull, but that was my experience of this one.
Eduardo Coronel
Oct 21, 2008 Eduardo Coronel rated it it was amazing
This is one of the first books that i ever read, after this book i fell in love with reading, It helped me understand the world better looking at it through somebody else's eyes.
Steven Spector
Sep 04, 2013 Steven Spector rated it really liked it
One of the more engrossing books I've read in a few years. In less than 200pp the author tells the story of a good chunk of his childhood honestly and vividly. Recommended for kids of all ages!
Cathy Houston
May 05, 2014 Cathy Houston rated it liked it
Interesting memoir from Ed White's nephew. Show Mr. White as a very kind man helping his nephew through a very difficult adolesence
Dean Kostos
Gripping, poignant, honest.
Aug 22, 2012 Eric rated it really liked it
I have read some of Edmund White's book. I stumbled upon this book at Savers or Goodwill. It's a good read. The book interesting so far.
Rebecca rated it did not like it
May 17, 2015
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Sattva rated it did not like it
Nov 02, 2014
Michelle rated it really liked it
Sep 15, 2010
Susannah rated it liked it
Jun 14, 2008
Carolyn Ryan
Carolyn Ryan rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2014
Ann rated it it was ok
Jan 31, 2015
Bill Hsu
Bill Hsu rated it liked it
Mar 23, 2014
Alex Strout
Alex Strout rated it liked it
Aug 31, 2008
Holly rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2015
Chris Chouinard
Chris Chouinard rated it it was amazing
Jan 14, 2013
Margaret rated it it was amazing
Sep 13, 2013
Renee rated it liked it
Jul 10, 2014
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