Four friends decide to run away from the horror of their everyday lives in a children's home in the English countryside. They head for the woods, their sense of freedom surprises them, and for the first time they feel the exhilaration of adolescence. Yet the forest slowly asserts its own power and what happens there will affect the four boys' lives forever.
With his trademark humour, compelling narrative directness, and rhythmic prose, Alex Wheatle here shows himself to be an author of real calibre, exposing the social stigma associated with children's homes, and the psychological consequences of their impact on sensitive children. Never losing pace or failing to engage the reader at every moment, ‘Home Boys’ is an unflinchingly honest depiction of childhood.
‘This is a brave, brutal story told with a shocking immediacy. Alex Wheatle has created a disturbing portrait of life in a children’s home, in language which is plain, unsparing, and heart-rendingly poignant’ Daily Mail
'Alex Wheatle is already an award-winning author, but with the publication of his latest novel expect to see him soar into a totally different league as a writer. With this groundbreaking work of fiction, Wheatle has produced what is truly the most moving book I have read this year. It's a heart-wrenching coming of age story. […] Wheatle weaves complex and controversial issues such as mental health, child abuse and neglect, into an intense tale of enduring friendship. It's the illustration of how true friendships can survive and even thrive through the most disturbing of times that makes this book so very special.' The New Nation
'With a friendship of unspoken confidences remaining the focus, the four boys negotiate a mutual search for understanding and freedom. The narrative is strong and meaningful.' Independent on Sunday
'It’s hard to imagine a gritty-realism novel about emotional, physical and sexual abuse in children’s homes also being a beautifully written poetic portrayal of loyalty, friendship, and boyhood adventure. Wheatle, however, manages to blend the two into one perfectly painted story. The author himself spent his childhood in care homes, and this gives The Seven Sisters an uncomfortable resonance. The underlying themes of friends replacing family, childhood shaping adulthood, and the very thin line that separates madness and sanity combine to produce a horrifying account of under-privilege.' The Big Issue
'This is a book to read and nourish… For it is a book which never gives up on its characters and, doing such, also never gives up on its readers.' Morning Star
'This book is impossible to put down. A tale of camaraderie, survival and revenge, Home Boys is in parts a British equivalent of Stephen King’s classic Stand By Me, albeit with a more immediate and harrowing background.' Buzz Magazine
'Alex Wheatle, always a gripping writer has given us an important work about life as a kid in care in the 1970’s and how brutality and abuse within the system can continue to distort and destroy lives down the years. Where Home Boys shines is in the interactions between the friends, capturing the love, anger, growing tensions and everything else that bubbles up within adolescent peer groups. Wheatle weaves in the overt racism of the 1970’s and does not shy away from the language and brutality that still lingers just beneath the surface of society to this day. Home Boys is an important read – to help us face the cruelty and mistreatment that was prevalent in many care homes of the recent past, as well as the abuses people of colour still face to this day.' Teen Librarian
'A gripping, horrifying and moving adventure story.' Maggie Gee
'I think I went through every emotion possible whilst reading this book and was bereft when I got to the end.' 5/4 nudge-book.com