The Beauty is in the Walking by James Moloney
I knew about making people laugh, but that was hard among those who didn't know me and my little problems, who saw the saliva at the corner of my mouth and straightaway thought I must be a halfwit. I wondered what I would choose if the fairy godmother who went AWOL at my birth turned up to make amends. Okay, Jacob, she'd say, what's it going to be, normal legs or a mouth that doesn't dribble from one corner?
Jacob O'Leary of Palmerston is forced to live with cerebral palsy and is desperately waiting for a chance to prove himself. When livestock are murdered in his small Australian town, a newcomer is unfairly blamed and Jacob seizes the moment to fight for justice. Will he solve the Palmerston case, or fail and be forever ridiculed?
Upon looking at the front cover of The Beauty is in the Walking, I immediately recognised the author's name. James Moloney is known for stories such as The Book of Lies and Bridget: A New Australian, both which I read as a 'tween. I was keen to see how he would approach a YA novel.
James Moloney's writing style is descriptive and emotional. His choice to put Jacob in the first person made it easy for the reader to relate to and barrack for him. It allowed me a window into his thoughts.
Before I read The Beauty is in the Walking, I had limited knowledge on what cerebral palsy was. Jacob reveals how hard it is to deal with his social life and mental state. He details the constant pain he endures and his jealousy of his athletic older brother, Tyke.
Jacob's adoration of Amy is central to the story. He can't stop thinking of her when he is studying for his Year 12 exams and is constantly dreaming up plans to meet up. Jacob feels like his cerebral palsy is holding him back from love and this makes him try harder than ever to win Amy over.
Bullying has followed Jacob his entire life. When a cruel teenager confronts Jacob in a bathroom, he remains silent, scared and furious. Later on, he gives the same bully an inspiring speech.
Jacob is full to the brim with problems and a war is constantly raging within his head. He battles family, love, the Palmerston case, discrimination, exams, social struggles and more. The overlapping problems in The Beauty is in the Walking create a chaotic sense that lasts until the story's end.
Jacob is understandably tormented and the reader needs to be at the emotional age to empathise with him. Because of this, I recommend The Beauty is in the Walking to readers aged 12+
This is an entertaining and inspirational read and I admired how many obstacles Jacob overcomes. He experiences great personal growth and doesn't give up on his fight for righteousness.
I give The Beauty is in the Walking four-and-a-half bookbolts out of five.
Publisher: Harper CollinsPublishers Pty Limited
ISBN: 978 0 7322 9994 1