What I Did

( 4 )

Overview

"This is a story about a terrible thing which happens to me. I have to warn you that nobody is bad or good here, or rather everyone is a bit bad and a bit good and the bad and the good moluscules get mixed up against each other and produce terrible chemical reactions. Did you know cheetahs cannot retract their claws?"

Six-year-old Billy loves animals, David Attenborough documentaries, and sneakers that flash when he runs. He does not love sitting still, the blood-soaked sky in ...

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What I Did

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Overview

"This is a story about a terrible thing which happens to me. I have to warn you that nobody is bad or good here, or rather everyone is a bit bad and a bit good and the bad and the good moluscules get mixed up against each other and produce terrible chemical reactions. Did you know cheetahs cannot retract their claws?"

Six-year-old Billy loves animals, David Attenborough documentaries, and sneakers that flash when he runs. He does not love sitting still, the blood-soaked sky in Watership Down, or his father's cell phone.

When Billy 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 a heart-wrenching reminder of how best intentions can lead to disastrous consequences, and how one rash decision can take on a life of its own.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wakling (Devil’s Mask) creates a memorable narrator in Billy, a precocious and headstrong British six-year-old who understands the world through nature shows. When Billy runs into a busy street, his father, fear turning to rage, spanks him before the eyes of a nosy jogger. The jogger promptly calls child services, beginning a terrifying odyssey in which concerned agents of the state try to protect the boy from what they see as an abusive father. Not comprehending the gravity of the situation, Billy makes comments that unintentionally incriminate his father and drive the entire family closer to the breaking point. Much in the vein of Atonement, a well-intentioned innocent threatens to destroy the people he loves most, and Wakling clearly takes a childlike delight in the language of his narrator. The book is filled with amusing catachreses (“test buds” for “taste buds,” for instance) that have an irresistible charm for the first hundred pages or so, after which the devices becomes irritating and the limited perspective hinders any larger point. But the novel is affecting, filled with many poignant scenes. Agent: Lisa Bankoff, ICM. (July)
Booklist
“Like Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap, [WHAT I DID] documents one family’s attempt to copewith the aftermath of a public outburst and the failure of their own innocent attempts to put things right . . . an affecting, thought-provoking tale of parent-child relations.”
Irish Times
“A child’s view of the actions and attitudes of adults has seldom been so compellingly or tenaciously illustrated as by Wakling in this perfect little book.”
Daily Mail (London)
“Gripping, hilarious, tender and a whole lot more, this is, without doubt, one of the books of the year.”
Melbourne Age
“A powerful, poignant and funny novel, perched on the precarious line between protecting children and destroying families.”
The Independent
“Horribly plausible . . . [What I Did] brilliantly captures parent-child relations in the raw.”
Sunday Age (Melbourne)
“Wakling creates believable conflict from the everyday facts of a child going just too far and a parent losing it . . . The novel is a strong depiction of a family in crisis.”
The Guardian
“Amusing and unsettling . . . What I Did lets us into the mind of a child who is comically literal and utterly at sea in the world of adults.”
Mail on Sunday
“A powerful parable of 21st century society . . . a fine, challenging novel.”
Emma Donoghue
“This is family life today at its most believable: warm and messy, bored and raging, and above all, self-conscious. WHAT I DID is every parent’s nightmare, but will make you burst out laughing too. I loved it.”
Lisa Jewell
“I loved it! Staggeringly good. Terrifyingly good.”
Emily Barr
“Hugely impressive, gripping, funny and thought provoking.”
Alex Preston
“Excellent . . . Dark but uplifting.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062121691
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/17/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 996,512
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Wakling grew up in California and England. He won a scholarship to Oxford University and has since worked as a travel writer, farm hand, and litigator. He now lives in Bristol, England, with his wife and children. What I Did is his sixth book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 27, 2012

    Written through the eyes of a six year old boy, who is well educ

    Written through the eyes of a six year old boy, who is well educated and mannered. He know how to greet someone properly, but like a typical six year old, immediately changes his thoughts and may start talking about dinosaurs. Also typical to a six year old, not everything a child hears is what they think they hear, for example, a nuclear threat becomes a new clear threat.

    What I Did is the story of what happens to Billy when he runs into the street and what happens to those around him, his family, his teachers, etc, and how others view the series of events.

    Very well written, even though there are no chapters. The story flows nicely. Humor through the eyes of a child and heart felt through the eyes of adults. A must read for all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    What I did is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award.

    What I did is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom’s Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling Author and; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom’s Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    Enter headline

    Enter review

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  • Posted September 8, 2012

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A book narrated

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    A book narrated by a six year old that took a few pages for me to get into the way he was sharing the story. He starts his story running into the street and being reprimanded by his father in front of a stranger and the story kind of goes down hill from there.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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