My enormous thanks to Will Dady at Renard Press for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for The Green Indian Problem by Jade Leaf Willetts and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.
The Green Indian Problem
Set in the valleys of South Wales at the tail end of Thatcher’s Britain, The Green Indian Problem is the story of Green, a seven year-old with intelligence beyond his years – an ordinary boy with an extraordinary problem: everyone thinks he’s a girl.
Green sets out to try and solve the mystery of his identity, but other issues keep cropping up – God, Father Christmas, cancer – and one day his best friend goes missing, leaving a rift in the community and even more unanswered questions. Dealing with deep themes of friendship, identity, child abuse and grief, The Green Indian Problem is, at heart, an all-too-real story of a young boy trying to find out why he’s not like the other boys in his class.
Longlisted for the Bridport Prize (in the Peggy Chapman-Andrews category)
My Review of The Green Indian Problem
Green (Jade) Waters is a seven year old boy trapped in a girl’s body.
The Green Indian Problem is outstanding. It would be difficult for me to have loved this book more and it has gone straight on my list of books of the year.
Green is a phenomenal creation. Trapped inside a female shell is a boy whose seven and a half year old voice sings from the page with love, empathy and an honesty that is heart breaking. The language Green uses is relatively simple in keeping with his age, and is so completely authentic that I wanted to climb into the pages, buy him a new bike and hug him tightly. His views on everything from God to bullies are convincing, insightful and endearing.
I found all the characters in The Green Indian Problem simply brilliant. Even the most minor character is real and convincing. Set against a backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain, Green may not understand all the socio-political references, but he conveys them in a way that the adult reader understands instantly. This is such skilled and affecting writing.
Jade Leaf Willetts has a perfect insight into human relationships so that he presents the full spectrum from the darkest, abusive ones to the most unselfish loving ones. As a result, The Green Indian Problem might be a relatively brief narrative, but it is steeped in wisdom. It’s quite difficult to convey the emotional impact of Green’s narrative, but I’d defy any reader to encounter his life and remain unchanged by the events he describes and the life he lives.
Alongside the theme of sexual identity are many other concepts such as acceptance, domestic abuse, death, criminality, family, friendships, relationships, education, depression, and so on. These may seem negative but in The Green Indian Problem, Jade Leaf Willetts presents reality through Green’s eyes with such tenderness and perception that the book is actually uplifting and positive whilst remaining realistic.
It is quite had to review this book without revealing events and outcomes. Whatever you do, don’t let The Green Indian Problem be a book that slips under the radar. It is sublime in content, emotion, characterisation and the writing craft. I absolutely adored it. The Green Indian Problem is totally wonderful.
About Jade Leaf Willetts
Jade Leaf Willetts is a writer from Llanbradach, a strange, beautiful village in South Wales. He writes about extraordinary characters in ordinary worlds and has a penchant for unreliable narrators. The Green Indian Problem, his first novel, was longlisted for the 2020 Bridport Prize in the Peggy Chapman-Andrews category. Jade’s poetry has been published by Empty Mirror, PoV Magazine and Unknown Press. His short story, ‘An Aversion to Popular Amusements’ was shortlisted for the inaugural Janus Literary Prize. He is currently working on a coming of age follow-up to The Green Indian Problem.
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