Raised on a diet of beatings and thrashings from his alcoholic father, Gabriel first wins his way into his principal’s heart in High School by telling him that, unlike the other boys, he doesn’t aspire to being the most popular boy at school, but rather to find himself instead. Impressed by his attitude, Principal Thornton recommends him for a full scholarship at Prince of Wales Boarding School, the proverbial “best of the best,” set in East Africa.In the next scene, the vista of the internationally recognized boarding school, grounds for the development of the wealthy and the famous from across the globe, opens out before a newcomer, Nigel, who comes from an affluent home, and who, surprisingly enough, is not at all happy about coming to the school.
In front of a cheering crowd, Principal Boon introduces all present to those to whom he chooses to refer as the “guardian angels entrusted to tirelessly guide and watch over your little ones.” Most of those present are unaware that the so-called “guardian angels” will soon come to be recognized as the villains of the piece, at least by those who are subjected to their seemingly endless bullying and victimization.
Patch, Mucheru Njaga’s debut novel, was loosely based on his own experiences at the school. He was inspired to write the novel by a news article that he read in 2003 about a teenage boy who committed suicide in the US after months of bullying. Though Njaga insists that the tale is not an exposé as such and that none of the characters is real, he does admit that some of the events are true. He hopes, in fact, that the book will open up both national and international discourse on the root causes of bullying, by allowing its readers to look at the practice from both the perspective of the victim, as well as from that of the perpetrator. Keeping in mind that October is National Bullying Month, the publication of the book at this time of year is of particular importance. Also in a number of countries in Africa the school year starts at the beginning, rather than in the middle of, the year. As the subject of Patch is of just as much relevance to people living on that continent as it is to those living in the US, the publication date could not be better. Both kids and their parents could do well be reading this novel over the vacation and studying its import prior to the start of the school year, or the next semester.
Mucheru Njaga was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, and studied creative writing at Hunter College. Before writing Patch, he worked on a number of different screenplays for several independent productions. The novel was, in fact, adapted from one of his own original screenplays. He is currently based in San Francisco, California.
Book Review By Lois Henderson
Available at Amazon.Com-Patch:Assumption Is A Crime