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Review of Learning to Think by Tracy King

Having grown up in poverty surrounded by grief and anxiety, Tracy tells her story of how she and her family battled hardships graver than any young child should have to go through at her age. Through the guidance of the Church, the King family put their faith in a system which promises prosperity and hope, yet after an exorcism to free the demons that possess her, and burning her beloved books which she believes are a gateway for evil, Tracy undergoes a personal and heroic journey to think for herself outside of an orthodox education. Her sister refuses to go to school and her mother is agoraphobic; the anxieties the family harbour keep spreading until Tracy is also resistant to attend school and fears the outside world.

One day, tragedy strikes in the form of five teenage boys who are responsible for her father’s death. The family is distraught and it is the beginning of Tracy’s suffering. Having enjoyed the homemade games and imaginative play with her father, as they couldn’t afford toys, Tracy’s world, is now dark and silent. 

Over the years following her father’s death, Tracy comes to terms with her childhood as well as discovering the truth behind what really happened that fateful night. I was fortunate enough to meet Tracy at the Doubleday showcase last year, and as well as seeing the matchstick Scrabble board her father made which appears in the book. She said it was only through the process of writing the book and contacting people from her past that she was able to piece together the puzzle of her father’s death. It took decades for her to find the truth, and now she shares her story with the world: a story of compassion, fear, religion and freedom.

Reviewed by Victoria.

Learning to Think was published on 07/03/24 by Doubleday.

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