Tom Houghton is twelve years old. He is different and the others know it. Some tiptoe around it, whisper loudly about it, some bully him mercilessly, and very few embrace him for it.

Fast forward to Tom Houghton at forty. The book unfolds as we wind our way through time; from that little boy growing up in 70’s Sydney, to Tom’s adult life, which has become an extraordinarily fucked up mess.

Very few books give me a book hangover, and I had not found a book this year which I fully immersed myself in. Tom Houghton is that book. The prose is so detailed and offers up the delicate scents, nuances and body language which places you in Tom’s world, a world that is tough, chaotic and a confusing place to be at times.

Do you ever let your mind wander back to childhood? Those times when the kids at school were incredibly mean to you and the memory stings to recall? The dread of going to school and waking in the morning to icy cold fingers around your heart, making you feel heavy, scared and full of dread? Do you ever think back to a time when you were nothing short of spiteful to a loved one and you lurch a little with shame? This book, be warned, will bring those feelings back; pricking at your conscience as you turn the pages and live Tom’s story along with your own.

Tom Houghton is incredibly raw and sad to read at times, but it is equally compelling and not all doom and gloom. The friendship between adult Tom and his friend Hanna is quick witted, smart and sarcastic. There are loving, warm moments too, along with the madness which every family deals with.

Ultimately I wanted to cuddle little Tom Houghton, take him for a Milo and tell him he could be whoever he wanted to be, but that it was fine to just be himself too. I was glad he was fictional and didnt have to deal with the tough moments that far too many kids have to put up with.

Clever, raw, and heartbreakingly sad at times. Tom Houghton will give you a soulful book hangover.

Pick so far for 2015 5 out of 5 stars.

The Book Jacket

As a boy growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Tom Houghton escapes the harshness of the schoolyard by cocooning himself in the cinema of the golden age of Hollywood.

When he discovers that his favourite actress, Katharine Hepburn, modelled herself on her brother, Thomas Houghton Hepburn, Tom sinks deeper into his fantasy life. Determined to reveal his true identity to the world, Tom is propelled on a torturous path with disastrous consequences.


Tom and Kathryn Hepburn

Almost thirty years later, Tom is offered an acting role at a festival in Scotland. With the rigours of his past finally catching up with him, fantasy and reality struggle for control and Tom finds himself questioning everything he thought he knew about himself.


A stunning, heartbreaking novel about the agonies of growing up. – See more at:

Thank you Simon & Schuster for my favourite read of the year.

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