Reading Journey 3: The Boys by Katie Hafner

Hello, fellow bookworm! Today I'm going to share with you updates on the book that I am reading, The Boys by Katie Hafner.  It's about an introverted man Ethan who fell in love with Barb, an extroverted woman. They thought that they complemented each other but it turns out their differences drove them apart.  In the beginning, Ethan left the most impression on me because of his introvertedness to which I could relate. His sad childhood made me identify with him more. When he met Barb, it's so nice seeing he's opening up to new experiences. Barb was his total opposite. She loved to explore the world.  They got married, went to an amazing escapade in Italy, but when they fostered twin boys, their relationship became wobbly. It was aggravated by the pandemic when people globally literally stayed and worked from home. This part made the story realistic as I also experienced staying at home, social distancing, and the wearing of the mask and plastic face shield.  The strain

A Book Review: This Much Huxley Knows

Gail Aldwin, a British novelist, poet and scriptwriter, introduces the witty, seven-year-old Huxley who shares his thoughts about Brexit, friendship, and family in the contemporary novel,  This Much Huxley Knows. 

Set in the London suburbs, Huxley met an old man with a disability  who had just arrived at their community and the people didn't know much about him. Huxley made friends with him but was later forbidden by his parents. He couldn't understand why Leonard, who gave him chocolates, was a  "not-allowed-to-have friend". He felt sadder when he witnessed Leonard being attacked by a gang of boys by a store. What was happening in their community? He longed to talk with him again but his parents would get mad. Were they right that Leonard could hurt him? 

This Much Huxley Knows is the second novel of Gail Aldwin. Her other books are, The String Games, her first coming-of-age novel that was a finalist in The People ’ s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020; and a children’s picture book entitled Pandemonium. She is now based in Dorset after volunteering at a refugee settlement in Uganda. 

My Thoughts 


A story that touches on prejudice, friendship, and adult issues through the eyes of a seven-year-old boy is a fascinating concept but I was not sure if it's going to work.  Despite my hesitancy, I dived into it and  was pleasantly surprised that it did work! 

Huxley's curiosity, linguistic-verbal intelligence,  openness, and a sense of playfulness shape the uniqueness of his voice as he narrates his story. He wonders about a lot of things around him and articulates his observations and assumptions with spontaneity, purity, and cheerfulness. I found myself emotionally invested in the character of Huxley that I didn't want his story to end!

I love the eggcorns! Huxley has this way with words that are clever and amusing. He loves to make eggcorns that are, as defined by Merriam-Webster, "words or phrases that are mistakenly used for another word or phrase because they sound similar and seem logical or plausible". For example,  Brexit is "Breaks-it", and disapproves,  "dizzy-proves". As I read along, it was fun guessing the proper word of  each eggcorn he constructed. 

The novel is also filled with details that made me feel involved in Huxley's life. The family conversations, playtime, school events,  and community events told in the story reminded me of my own experiences as a young kid that covered me with nostalgia. 

The flawed secondary characters,  including the protagonist,  added more dimension to the story that made it more relatable. Sometimes adults have conversations about serious matters such as fidelity,  sexuality, and prejudice without considering the fact that there are children around them who might be listening. This weakness gives Huxley an opportunity to create his own understanding of the situation which he thought might be true. 

Misunderstandings supported the forward movement of the main storyline along with other subplots that are completely told in the end.

I think this book is for those who are looking for a thought-provoking read that also stirs heartwarming feelings and evokes laughter. 


Discussion Questions

1. What was your first impression on the book based on its title and blurb? 

2. What words best describe Huxley?

3. Huxley's parents and their friends talked about sensitive topics while with kids. What are the consequences and dangers children might face after listening to an adult conversation inadvertently?

4. Why did Huxley's parents forbid him to be friends with Leonard?

5. Compare and contrast the friendship Huxley has with other kids and with Leonard.

6. Is the story character-driven or plot-driven? Explain.

7. What is the implication of Huxley's story to our lives?

8. Who needs this book in their life? Why?

9. Which quote resonates with you? Why?

10. What questions do you have for the author?

Thank you, Gail Aldwin and Black Rose Writing for the Advanced Reader Copy for the chance to review this book. I understand that I would give it an honest review.

Further Information

Title: This Much Huxley Knows: A Story of Innocence, Misunderstandings, and Acceptance

Author: Gail Aldwin

Genre: Contemporary Literature

Publisher: Black Rose Writing (July 8, 2021)

Publication Date: July 8, 2021

Print length: 217 pages



First Line:

"The playground at St Michael ’ s School is a car park tonight."


  1. Thank you for this wonderful review! I love the graphics and your take on the story.

    1. Hi, Gail. Sorry for the late reply. Thank you so much for reading my review and sharing it on your blog. Congratulations on your book! I'm looking forward to reading more of your books.


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