I received The Schooldays of Jesus by J M Coetzee as an e-book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The book was on the Man Booker Prize Long List, which was my first fascination to read it. My next interest was the cover (yes, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover). I assumed this would be more about dance, a bit like Ballet Shoes* by Noel Streatfeild which I loved. But I was, unfortunately, wrong.
This is the second in a series following David, a small child and his guardians Simon and Ines. Whilst I was reading there were some points which referenced their past, but wasn’t clear about the intricacies. I didn’t realise at the time that this was because of a previous book. I had assumed it was a mystery which would show itself further in the book. Strangely, I had the wrong assumption.
The continued use of “to him, Simon”, “so he, Simon”, and “he, Simon” grated on my nerves within the first few chapters. Unfortunately, this never got easier to read. It seemed to me that the author wasn’t sure whether to use Simon or He and so used both unnecessarily.
Although it was easy to follow, the plot was… tedious. There were many repetitive thoughts from Simon, mundane questions from David and no true answers. The headstrong boy, David seemed too unrealistic to relate to. Simon too consistantly bland. Ines too distant to care for. Is the book meant to link to the bible? To Jesus’s childhood? Coetzee has made the messiah and his earthbound family boring and unlikable.
I kept turning the page to find out what the key message was supposed to be as surely this book was meant to have a deep underlying message? Yet, nothing appeared from the end. Was Schooldays of Jesus meant to not have a clear message? The same way Simon never understands ‘calling down the numbers’? Is Coetzee giving himself an open for his next book?
This book doesn’t do justice to Coetzee’s apparent brilliant mind and insightful writing. Although, maybe his work is for people who enjoy reading philosophical and allegory books. This person is, of course, not me.
If you would like to read ‘Schooldays of Jesus’ then you can purchase from Amazon*