It’s hard to read about how this happy and well-cared for boy could have gone so far off the rails, sliding repeatedly back into addiction and violence. Overall, however, That Fry Boy is an affirmative and powerful read, with a strong character arc that is transformative. Fry’s recovery through Twelve Step, and the way he turns his bad experiences into a toolkit for helping others, is inspirational, and will provide solace for anyone who thinks their own case is hopeless.
Though it is an intense and sometimes brutal read, Wild Things reveals its truths slowly, showing rather than telling, in the spaces between the story. The mystery of what exactly happened to Alfred is what drives the narrative forward, almost with a detective story pace,but in terms of its themes and the development of the characters, the story cuts deeply. The multi-layered narrative structure with its reversing arcs between Ben and Toby is particularly effective.
The writing is beautiful throughout, without ever over-shadowing the plot or narrative flow, which moves forward quickly. Starford remains non-judgmental, even towards those who caused her the greatest pain, including the many adults who clearly failed in their duty of care.
Scott-Norman’s book provides fifteen different nuggets of wisdom from some of Australia’s most popular, dynamic and confident stars. All of them were bullied, some so badly that you have to wonder how they managed to make it through at all, much less to rise to the heights of success that they did.