Three magistrates rate my first novel

dunno by Peter Inson

As a magistrate who sits in the Adult Criminal Courts and the Family Proceedings Courts, I found this book extremely interesting and useful.

Looking at the home situation, minor criminality and truancy from the point of view of the child was invaluable.  I read many bundles describing atrocious home conditions, domestic violence and lack of family life.  This was looking at those situations from the inside and will cause me to read papers from a more informed perspective in the future.  All Family Panel magistrates are too familiar with the scenes depicted in this book.  I think it would be very helpful for them to read this book to widen their perspective when reading bundles.

From the Adult Court point of view, many JPs will be familiar with the hopeless feeling when faced with a parent who has no control over their teenage child.  This puts some ‘flesh’ on to the story.  I can only assume that reading this book must be useful for those JPs who sit on the Youth Panel, of which I have no experience.

In summary, reading this book was like looking behind a familiar situation and has added to my understanding and experience as a Magistrate.

Claire Scargill. JP NE Essex and Essex Family Panel.

At the outset I would say that this book gripped me after the first few chapters and I finished it in three hours.

Jon is a 15 year-old boy and is the main character of this book. His answer to many questions is “dunno”, hence the title. Strong language is used throughout the book.

If Jon ever appeared before the bench, charges could include theft, breaking and entering, skipping school and extortion to name but a few. What drives Jon to break into his own home? What fears does Jon have when older boys are beating him up because he doesn’t give them money? The consequence is that Jon gets money out of younger pupils in the school or has to steal it from his mother. Thank goodness that Jon meets a different sort of person who perhaps has been through similar situations that Jon has experienced and hence can be of help to Jon showing him there is a life other than crime!

Youth court justices, who hopefully might understand the situations Jon gets himself into, should read this book. Indeed, I recommend it to all my fellow magistrates.

Dr. Brian Denton JP – Merseyside. Published in The Magistrate 

I came across this book completely by chance, and I am so glad I did. In fact I am putting a copy into the Retiring Rooms at both the Youth court and Family Court where I sit as I think all magistrates who deal with young people would benefit from reading it.

This is the story of six months in the life of a fifteen year-old boy called Jon. The only child of a single mother of 32, his life has been one of physical and emotional poverty and abuse. He is a truant from a school system that he doesn’t understand, and which doesn’t understand him.

From a young age he has drifted into petty crime, and now cannot see any other way of living. His life is a complete misery as he is caught between a loveless home, a rigid education system, and the threatening attentions of other criminal bullies – his future seems bleak to say the least.

However as a result of an injury he sustained when breaking and entering his own home, he has to go to A and E at the local hospital where the male nurse who stitches his wound manages to get through to him, and slowly he finds another way of living through encountering adults who do not threaten of browbeat him. The solutions he finds may well not be what society wants or expects but they turn his thinking and way of life around sufficiently to move him in a more positive direction where he has some hope of coping with adulthood without becoming one of those individuals who spend their adult lives in prison or on the dole.

The language is strong and realistic, the tone is never patronising and the author doesn’t offer any hard and fast answers to Jon’s problems, just possibilities.

I see youths like Jon in both the Youth and Family Courts over and over again. This is the first novel I have come across which exposes the lives of those who live well below our radar, the underbelly of our society. The news media has been full of stories of ASBOs hoodies, feral youths and so on, reflecting the glib comments made by our politicians – Jon is a hoodie if ever there was one, and whilst reading this book I felt moved by David Cameron’s instruction to hug a hoodie. If I could have given Jon a hug I would have done so immediately, he so desperately needed one,

A teenage book for adults, and an adult book for teenagers, it may open your eyes.

This book has not had the publicity it deserves, as the author self-published it and it did not have the PR machine of the big publishing houses behind it.

Last year dunno was recognised by an award from Arts Council England.

Herschelian Blog

dunno by Peter Inson ISBN 0954761405  Book or Kindle from Amazon.

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