Full Disclosure – I was provided a copy of this book by the author, however, have voluntarily chosen to provide a review. All opinions are my own.
The High School experience through the eyes of an outcast
If high school life isn’t hard enough for the average person, it is twice as hard for Gavin Hawthorne. Having emigrated from Ireland to the United States, Gavin finds himself alone in a world of cliques, bullies, and depression. After his closest friend and fellow kindred spirit Linda abandons him in favor of a more popular group Gavin finds himself discarded and lonely. But an unlikely acquaintance steps in to help and with her guidance Gavin learns what can arguably be the most important lesson of his life. With his newfound peace, Gavin sets out to spread this lesson to others who may need it as well.
The Learner’s Plight is the debut novella by Muhammad Hamza Shah and is a very insightful read. Told from the point of view of Gavin, the reader is immersed in his thoughts, feelings, and emotions as he faces class bullies, high school cliques, teenage angst, and his own insecurities. Checking in at a little under 50 pages, The Learner’s Plight is short, but its impact will stay with you for a long time to come. Shah’s writing style is elegant, almost poetic, and belies his young age. Never once did it feel like I was reading a debut offering, but a work from an established author. While the story does leave some unresolved conflict, I felt that Shah handled this beautifully while keeping true to the realistic feel of the overall story. I have a teenager entering high school this year and this may be a book I have him read with the hope of equipping him for the experience to come. If The Learner’s Plight is any indication of Shah’s capabilities, I am looking forward to his next novel and beyond.