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The Boy with No Shoes

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  191 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Five-year-old Jimmy Rova is the unwanted child of a mother who rejects him, and whose other children bully him. The one thing he can call his own is a pair of shoes, a present from the only person he feels has ever loved him. When they are cruelly taken away, Jimmy spirals down into a state of loneliness and terrible loss from which there seems no recovery.

This triumphant
...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published 2005 by Headline Review (first published August 2nd 2004)
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Lance Greenfield
Mar 17, 2013 Lance Greenfield rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly narrated

Reading my way through this book was like walking through a hall of mirrors at a fairground. Every turn revealed a new reflection of an aspect of my own childhood. Some were distorted more than others, but the story of the life of Jimmy Rova, told in the first person singular, evoked many poignant memories.

Jimmy tells the story of his difficult early life, and the interactions with those around him. When he progresses, against the odds, into grammar school, life gets even tou
...more
Andy Lane
Sep 17, 2012 Andy Lane rated it it was amazing
One of the most poignant and moving books I have ever read for a while; one that has helped me put my own childhood into context and given me fresh hope that I might not have been quite as bad or stupid as I was made to feel I was all those years ago. But would I have tried so hard to prove them all wrong if I hadn't had those experiences, who knows?
Sarah Potter
Oct 27, 2013 Sarah Potter rated it it was amazing
This is the most moving book I've read in years. I'm not someone who normally enjoys memoirs but one of my friends insisted on lending me her treasured copy of "The Boy with No Shoes" and I fell in love with it from page one. All the way through this story of William Horwood's childhood, written in the most breathtaking prose, I thought how can a boy with such a harrowing start in life, end up achieving so much in adulthood? It seems that despite his dysfunctional family and bumpy ride education ...more
Iain
Dec 24, 2013 Iain rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. This memoir highlights the fragility of the human mind, while demonstrating how strength of spirit can win through. A very moving book. Should be on the national curriculum.
Faith
Jan 12, 2009 Faith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2006, biography
A childhood memoir by English author William Horwood. A touching, beautifully sad story. Very well told. The book seems more like a novel than like a memoir. Wonderful.
Claire
Apr 26, 2012 Claire rated it it was amazing
An excellent read. Based in a town where my family used to live, it adds to the interest. This author is incredible.
Bhavya Gupta
Feb 18, 2016 Bhavya Gupta rated it liked it
3.25 stars
Before saying anything, I just want to state that I know this book is a man's journey, his struggle and his light at the end of the tunnel. So.

Now as a reader: this book has quite a few highs and lows. There were parts which made me just... stop
And then there were the parts I wished were written more strongly.
But anyway, a good book to read, a better book yet to say 'Always Keep Fighting'
Pip
Jan 24, 2016 Pip rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I loved this memoir. It was written like a fairy story about a boy struggling to overcome some evil forces and find a place in the world. Each chapter was like a self contained vignette. The book was quite surreal but had a dark undertone - probably because it was derived from lived experience.
Camille
Dec 28, 2015 Camille rated it really liked it
A fantastically compelling recount of a boy's childhood in Kent from the 50s with a particular unpleasant mother and teacher. Luckily the bullies were balanced by wonderfully generous characters in equal measure. A great read.
Glynn
Jul 15, 2013 Glynn rated it it was amazing
Simply Brilliant!

What a story! Probably one of the best I've ever read. When I was reading it, I couldn't put it down and now I've finished it, I can't stop thinking about it.

The book follows a boy from first memory to adulthood. It's all so real and evocative of life in a small coastal town in fifties England. While we've all met characters like the ones encountered in the story, they are so credible, so finely drawn, so easy to relate to and yet they are all so individual.

The adventures that
...more
Rebecca McNutt
This memoir is very sad, but ultimately a testament to being able to dream of better things and still respect others even after people in the past have wronged you.
Pat Osment
Sep 08, 2015 Pat Osment rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book so well written and so moving.The heartache of a small boy desperate to feel love from anyone just moved me to tears.it seemed every time something gave him alittle piece of happiness the "The Dark times" would come back usually by the deeds of his cruel mother, and he would be plunged into despair.I felt he summed his feelings up perfectly when he said "Home is not a place or a building but the people inside who give it warmth and meaning and the eternal longing to return.Thats ...more
Norhan Zaher
Feb 04, 2014 Norhan Zaher rated it it was ok
i realized how much i hate autobiographies
Tracy Wainwright
Jun 05, 2016 Tracy Wainwright rated it it was amazing
What a brilliant book.
Paula
Apr 27, 2013 Paula rated it really liked it
I don't generally read misery memoirs but I was familiar with the author's fictional work, so I thought that I'd give this a try. I found it to be a haunting book, the skill of the writer comes through with every turn of phrase. I also found that amongst the misery that he included 2 incidents which restored my faith in humanity- those moments shine out in the book. Not sure that enjoyable is the word to use but certainly a goodread
Elizabeth
Apr 15, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
loved the book, sad in many places just wanted to pick Jimmy up and look after him. Life was never easy, but good people passed through his life, which made him understand that love was there.
Holly
Mar 21, 2008 Holly rated it it was amazing
I really liked this in a sad, depressing way. It is a touching story (again, in England...) of a boy's childhood and the hardships and simple joys he encounters.
Pam
Aug 30, 2011 Pam rated it really liked it
Excellent until it descended into tawdry, explicit writing. So the four stars are for the first part of the book. I would give nil for the latter part.
Hilary
Oct 15, 2012 Hilary rated it it was amazing


A beautifully written memoir from William Horwood.
Just like his novels, the writing is almost poetry.
A really moving life story.
Really enjoyable
Brenda
Apr 29, 2009 Brenda rated it it was amazing
This was a very thought provoking book which really got into the little boys feelings, you may need tissues for this one as sad in places.
Anna
Jan 18, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Breathe taking, a beautiful and important book. Every brutal punch is softened by a pillow of subtle kindness.
Diana
Jun 06, 2011 Diana rated it it was amazing
In weniger als 24 Stunden durchgelesen - das spricht für sich, finde ich!
Julie
Jun 26, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
This book really tugged at my heartstrings. Beautifully written
Amy Plum
Feb 04, 2010 Amy Plum rated it it was amazing
Heart-wrenching fictionalized memoir. What a great read!
Irene
Aug 05, 2012 Irene rated it really liked it
A very moving, but also depressing book.
Emma
Emma marked it as to-read
Jun 25, 2016
Redscottydog
Redscottydog is currently reading it
Jun 25, 2016
Joanne Collins
Joanne Collins marked it as to-read
Jun 22, 2016
Ashley
Ashley marked it as to-read
Jun 18, 2016
Matt
Matt marked it as to-read
Jun 12, 2016
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William Horwood is an English novelist. His first novel, Duncton Wood, an allegorical tale about a community of moles, was published in 1980. It was followed by two sequels, forming The Duncton Chronicles, and also a second trilogy, The Book of Silence. William Horwood has also written two stand-alone novels intertwining the lives of humans and of eagles, The Stonor Eagles and Callanish , and The ...more
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