Book Review- Boy: Tales of Childhood

Goodreads Synopsis: In Boy, Roald Dahl recounts his days as a child growing up in England. From his years as a prankster at boarding school to his envious position as a chocolate tester for Cadbury’s, Roald Dahl’s boyhood was as full of excitement and the unexpected as are his world-famous, best-selling books. Packed with anecdotes — some funny, some painful, all interesting — this is a book that’s sure to please.

I have always appreciated how Roald Dahl knows children so well (perhaps he was one until the day he died) and I especially appreciated his brief introduction to this book where he wrote:

An autobiography is a book a person writes about his own life and it is usually full of all sorts of boring details. This is not an autobiography.

This is not an autobiography. I would never write a history of myself.

I love how he knows how much we despise dry and tedious autobiographies and indeed he has kept his promise by writing light-hearted narratives of significant childhood incidences. There are tales of strict matrons, horrible headmasters, an island where he used to vacation and many more.

If anything, this book would make you feel nostalgic and fall in love with the simpler times of the 20th century, longing to take a time machine back into the 1920’s. The array of sweets described in earlier chapters such as Sherbet Suckers, Licorice Bootlace and Glacier Mints are mouth-watering and make me wish such treats were being made for the children of the 21st century. I wish to feel the empowerment of driving a newly invented motor car in an age where such a thing is miraculous and fascinating. Perhaps this book shall be my time machine, transporting me into an era of no technology. As an old soul, this book was a delight I never thought I would find.

I would recommend Boy: Tales of Childhood to one and all. Even if you have never read any of Dahl’s works, this book may inspire you to. But I’d especially recommend this book to Roald Dahl lovers because you can truly get insight into how Dahl’s own life and perhaps childhood in particular, inspired many of his children’s novels. There is a chapter called Chocolates, wherein Dahl recounts how he and his classmates at school would receive boxes of chocolates, new flavours that Cadbury concocted and wanted feedback on. It is apparent that this experience is  the seed from which Charlie and Chocolate Factory grew.

It also becomes evident why Dahl paints children as merciless puppets in the hands of evil adults, a theme that is seen in many of his books like Matilda, since he himself had always been at the mercy of his headmasters and their canes. Perhaps his bold, young heroic children characters are his own wish fulfillment; what he wished he could have done to those punishing and cruel adults when he was a child himself.

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