Review: Jack’s Well

Today is Roaring Reads’ stop on the blog tour for Jack’s Well, by Alan McClure. After enjoying Callum and the Mountain, we couldn’t wait to jump into the latest offering from this uniquely creative author.

Jack is a teenager trapped in re-hab, a six-year-old on a magical adventure, and the spoiled celebrity son of a world-famous children’s author. With several contrary versions of himself to contend with, it’s little wonder that the young man underneath can find life overwhelming.

Jack’s Well is the second children’s novel from Alan McClure, whose debut, Callum and the Mountain (see our review here) was a sweeping celebration of nature, Scots language, music and more. This story showcases the same originality and untethered imagination, but is aimed at older readers and sensitively tackles mental health themes that feel especially relevant now.

Inspired in part by the troubles of AA Milne’s real-life son Christopher Robin, who lived in the shadow of his father’s Winnie the Pooh stories, the teenage Jack faces a similar global judgement – the world thinks it knows him, even if he’s not sure that he knows himself yet – and to make matters worse, his experiences take place in the unforgiving glare of social media.

We encounter Jack through various lenses, including his own recovery journal, as the main character in his father’s fantasy books, and through the pages of an unauthorised biography. It’s a clever and effective way to explore a character, and really brings home the complications of fame.

Despite sometimes appearing as a fiction within a fiction, Jack still feels sharply real, and it is a considerable achievement that Alan McClure leaves us with hope for his one future, even as he unravels his multiple pasts.


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