Today I am taking part in the blog tour and sharing an extract from Jade Leaf Willetts, The Green Indian Problem. This was released on the 30th of March, published by Renard Press Ltd.
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)
EXTRACT – TREES
Mrs R told us to make a family tree. She said a family tree is a type of drawing that is also like a map of our families. My family tree was hard to do, because some of my family are living with the wrong people. I drew a lot of trees. I put myself, my mum and my sister in the first tree. Then I put my dad in the second one. I put everybody else in the other trees.
Because I am in the top group and the teacher thinks I’m clever, she lets me write stories when I have finished my work. I don’t think I’m that clever, because I don’t understand how spaceships work, and I am still trying to do my Rubik’s cube. My dad can do it really quickly, but I can only get one side the same colour. Orange. If I am not working on a story, Mrs R sometimes tells me to go and sit with Michael and help him with his work. She says that Michael needs extra help. I know this is true because Michael does not understand that 2 x 2 is 4 or 3 + 4 is 7. Michael has also been writing his name wrong. He has been writing ‘Micel’. Then the other day I showed him how to write it. He copied his name out loads of times and now he can do it right.
Michael is my best friend. He lives in the next street to me, and he is allowed to stay out on his bike when I am in bed. I can only stay out late if it’s not a school night and if my mum is in the right kind of mood to let me. That’s just sometimes. Michael lives with his mum and dad, his brother, his sister and his dogs. He only drew one tree. There were too many people in it because he drew his whole family – even his aunties and uncles were dangling off the branches. He put the dogs at the bottom of it, too. It looked like the dogs had scared everyone, so they climbed away. When I had finished my trees, I helped him to spell out the names in his family. I know how to spell all the names in mine. I live with my mum, my little sister Verity and a horrible man called Den. Den is short for Dennis. I didn’t put Den in our tree because he does not really belong there. He is so horrible he should have his own tree with no other people in it. I wish he was stuck in a tree and could never climb down. There should be special trees for people like Den. My dad is called Graham, but everyone calls him Gray or Grayo. My mum is called Linda, and people just call her Linda. I wrote down all my dad’s names on the branches of his tree. I put his new family in the tree with him too.
My dad lives with a woman called Tina and my two brothers, Aaron and Kai. When Mrs R was teaching us about families, she said that some people can have half brothers and sisters. She said half brothers and sisters only share a mum or a dad, not both. I think it means only having one parent that is the same as each other. It was a bit confusing. Michael kept saying, ‘I dunno what she’s on about.’ If Mrs R is right, that would mean my brothers and sister are halves, but I think that is just stupid, because you can’t have half a sister. Sisters are not like fractions. I wish my dad would live with us, but my mum said sometimes mums and dads can’t stay with each other because they do not like to live together in the same house. I think they should check if they like to be around each other before they get married. I think that would save people from getting sad. I am sad because my dad does not live with us, but I am also sad because I am stuck. Mrs R said if we get stuck we should try to work things out.
She told us to do it on paper like we do in maths if we can’t work out a sum. Then she gave us a spare workbook each, just for working things out. She said writing things down helps to work out problems. That is why I am writing this out. It’s because I am stuck with things. When you are stuck, it is called a problem, or a puzzle, and it can some- times be called a mystery. My problem is a mystery because something has happened to me that I don’t understand, and I can’t work out why it has happened. The teachers say if we try but still can’t work out the answer to some- thing we should ask somebody, but I don’t know who will know the right answer. I want to work out the mystery by myself, but I think I will have to ask some questions to get some clues. That is what I am going to do. I am writing this down in my workbook, so it is going to be my clue book too. I’m going to take it home so I can keep working on the problem. I think it might take a long time to get the right answer, because it is a very mysterious mystery.
THE GREEN INDIAN PROBLEM BLOG TOUR
Follow the tour along the way for these bloggers thoughts on The Green Indian Problem. My thanks to Will from Renard Press Ltd. for my spot on the blog tour and for the promotional materials.
LET’S GET TO KNOW 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.