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The Weight of a Thousand Feathers

Written by Brian Conaghan

Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults General Fiction Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

LoveReading View on The Weight of a Thousand Feathers

Funny, shocking, thought provoking, beautifully written book exploring the lengths to which we will go for those we love

Winner of the An Post Irish Book Awards Teen & Young Adult Book of the Year 2018 | Longlisted for The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019

Heart wrenching, honest, funny and bold, this exceptional novel about the life, loves and agonies of a young carer, and the love between a mum and her sons, is a storytelling triumph. 

Seventeen-year-old Bobby Seed is a devoted son and big brother and an all-round firework of wit and charm, wise and strong beyond his years. He’s also a young carer to his mum who’s suffering from debilitating MS. Bobby has to “brush his mother’s locks every day, sort out her medicine, sponge her clean three times a week, ooze positivity” even when all he wants to do is “punch the shit out of a walk or wail in the shower”. In his situation “the worry of death never leaves you”, but that doesn’t stop the brilliant banter between Bobby and his mum. Theirs is a beautiful, tender relationship. Bobby does what he does for her “because she’s my Mum. That pure and simple”. 

Bobby’s spirits are kept up by best friend Bel and attending Poztive support group for young carers. It’s there he falls for Vespa-riding Lou, who helps him fulfill his mum’s unexpected birthday request as her deterioration quickens. But then comes the ultimate request. Can he do what Mum needs to alleviate her excruciating pain and loss of function? 

Always warm and witty, and never sentimental, this raw portrait of real-life ravages is suffused in the magic of the human heart. Bobby is an unforgettable, inspirational character – we could all do with taking a leaf from Bobby’s book of strength and wit  - and author Brian Conaghan is a writer of the highest rank. 

Joanne Owen

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers Synopsis

Angry, stirring and tender, this is a bold, questioning exploration of the lengths to which we'll go for the people we love. From the Costa Children's Book Award winning author of When Mr Dog Bites and The Bombs That Brought Us Together.

Bobby Seed has questions. What's another word for `thesaurus'? How can I tell Bel I want her as my girl friend, not my girlfriend? How much pain is Mum in today? Has she taken her pills? And sometimes, secretly, Why us? Bobby's little brother Danny has questions too. Will Bobby let him have Rice Krispies for dinner? And can he stay up late on the computer? And why won't Mum's stupid illness just GO AWAY? But it's Mum's question for Bobby that could turn everything on its head. It's the Big One. The Unthinkable One. If Bobby agrees, he won't just be soothing her pain. He'll be helping to end it. Would he? Could he?

Perfect for readers of Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman.

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel members were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Emily Price, age 15 - 'This is a very interesting and intense novel as it makes me wonder how far we will go for the people we care for. A very gripping novel- very hard to put down.'
  • Humaira Kauser, age 20 - 'Beautiful inside and out- it'll rip your heart out.'
  • Susanna, age 15 - 'A heart wrenching and confrontational novel about love, teenagers, and the general stress of day to day life...This book absolutely broke my heart, but it was so worth it.'
  • Amy Laws, age 16 - 'I loved this book- it was both emotional and gripping.'
  • Olivia, age 14 - 'This book was wonderful. I loved it.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'I would recommend this to everyone but especially someone going through a tough time.'

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers Press Reviews

Utterly moving and heartbreakingly beautiful, this is a brilliant novel - The Sun, Five Star Review

An emotional rollercoaster of a book, written with so much heart it bounces off of the page. The darkness is balanced by cracking dialogue and humour. A bold, life-affirming read' - The Irish Independent

Conaghan is a sublime storyteller who can make the reader hang on his every last word (and all of the others) ...Conaghan is sensitive and the dark plot retains a lightness. - Alex O'Connell, The Times, Children's Book of the Week

Although it's heartbreaking at times, there's also tenderness and humour ...The tremendous empathy with which Conaghan writes about young people is impressive - The Irish Times

Heart wrenching, honest, funny and bold, this exceptional novel about the life, loves and agonies of a young carer, and the love between a mum and her sons, is a storytelling triumph ...Always warm and witty, and never sentimental, this raw portrait of real-life ravages is suffused in the magic of the human heart. Bobby is an unforgettable, inspirational character - we could all do with taking a leaf from Bobby's book of strength and wit - and author Brian Conaghan is a writer of the highest rank. - Joanne Owen, LoveReading4Kids

Brian Conaghan is a courageous writer, never afraid to really go there. He combines the straight and the blunt of kitchen sink writing with a luminous meditation on the nature of love and life and death. And he has shone a supportive spotlight on the lives of thousands of young carers across the UK. I cried buckets - Jill Murphy, The Bookbag

Conaghan's lightness of touch and sense of humour shine through in this heartbreaking story, and each of the characters lingers in the imagination until the final page - The Scotsman

A hard-hitting, heartbreaking tale ...One sentence after another knocks the reader out - Independent

Brian Conaghan has done it again. Uncompromising, gritty, laced with a black humour, this is a novel that you live ... An extraordinary book to be recommended to thoughtful, enquiring readers prepared to take a step into the dark. - Books for Keeps

Truly outstanding - The School Librarian

A powerful love story about this unique family of three ...[a] beautiful novel - Inis Reading Guide

This is a portrayal of young male bonding, complete with all the lively banter of true camaraderies, at its most tender and affectionate - Praise for WHEN MR DOG BITES: Irish Times

Beautifully observed and hilariously uncomfortable - Praise for WHEN MR DOG BITES: Guardian

Believable, funny, brave and vulnerable young male characters ... thought-provoking novel ... drama and tension in plenty ... irrepressible humour - Praise for THE BOMBS THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER: Joy Court, The School Librarian

Humanity and humour thread through the challenging storyline from the first page to the very last - Praise for THE BOMBS THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER: The Bookbag

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781408871546
Publication date: 13/06/2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781408871539
Publication date: 14/06/2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408871546
Publication date: 13th June 2019
Author: Brian Conaghan
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 368 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: General Fiction, Personal Social Health Economic , Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Reviewed by Children

About Brian Conaghan

Brian Conaghan was born and raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now lives in Dublin. He has a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. For many years Brian worked as a teacher and taught in Scotland, Italy and Ireland. His novels include The Boy Who Made it Rain, When Mr Dog Bites, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Carnegie Medal, and The Bombs That Brought Us Together, published in 2016, winning the 2016 Costa Children's Book Award.

More About Brian Conaghan

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