Marching to a Different Tune – Jacky Fletcher
Diary entries spanning four years in the life of Stefan, a young boy with ADHD, written by his mother. The blurb on the back on the book says that Fletcher “describes the struggles, embarrassments and triumphs her family experiences” – and whilst it’s big on the first two, there are not many triumphs to be found in this book.
Given the nature of this book, it obviously is not going to focus on days where nothing out of the ordinary happened. The focus is on the big events, and there certainly are a large number of them over the four years. It does not paint a positive picture of ADHD at all, and I do genuinely think the author was trying to. It is obvious that the family love and accept their son, but regardless the things that are described end up making you sympathize with Stefan’s sisters rather than Stefan.
‘Will you clear it up now, please, Stefan’, I repeated. He lost his temper and sprinkled half a tin of talcum powder around the bathroom. He then smashed an ornament of Louise’s which she had recently bought at some boot sale. She cried loudly and furiously.
To be fair, this book was written in 1999 and we have learnt a lot about different in-class and at-home strategies for ADHD/ADD since then, but this book just does not seem to have any strategies in it or much of anything except a list of challenging behaviours that never seem to improve with the occasional positive entry sprinkled in between. I noticed that Fletcher has a more recent book out ‘Running to a Different Rhythm’ and I thought that might show how things have improved over the years – but since the blurb mentions vehicle thefts, fires, and police interviews I don’t think it will.
My sister brought in the Christmas pudding that she had lovingly made. It looked delicious. She tried to light the brandy that the pudding was swimming in but, try as she might, the brandy would not catch alight. It was not until Christmas and the New Year were well over that we learned the truth. Stefan had gone into her kitchen, tipped the brandy away and replaced it with his urine!
As I said – there’s very little discussed in the way of strategies apart from a kind of token system that the mum describes as being useless which is abandoned. Except it is then reintroduced a year later after suggestions by a specialist and then mum is really hopeful that it will have a positive effect? I don’t know if something happened in between that didn’t make the editing process but the way it reads in book is: teacher suggests it and implements it and mum says it’s rubbish; expert suggests it and mum thinks it could be wonderful.
I don’t really know what else to say about this book, because I am pretty sure I am not the target audience. I think this is meant to be the sort of books that other parents pick up and relate to, probably by reading about someone else’s child doing the exact same thing that theirs has done in the past. The write up on Jessica Kingsley Publisher claims that “This book will inform the practice of teachers and psychologists who work with ADHD children, and guide and support these children’s parents and families.”, but I just did not get that from reading the book at all.
If you have a child with ADHD then you might find this book relatable, but I’m not sure who else would really get much from it.
Value for money?
JKP RRP is £16.99 and Amazon is £9.95. Both are more than I would pay for this book because it is light on valuable content for me. Some parents might feel having a book they can relate to is worth the £10 from Amazon, but the JKP price is definitely not value for money.