Christopher Wakling
William Morrow ($15)

Told from the point of view of six-year-old Billy Watson, What I Did masterfully captures the restless childhood imagination that often flies free from reality. What Billy did was get his father, a loving yet volatile man under pressure at work, in deep trouble with child protective services. Christopher Wakling’s discerning grasp of the sponge that is a child’s brain results in a complexity of linguistic inventiveness, filled with malapropisms and elaborate mythologies that Billy devises to stave off the boredom of adult talk and tensions. But the deep bond between father and son cannot be broken so readily by suspicion or the father’s own pig-headedness. No one comes off very well, but the messiness of these relationships makes it a truer and more profound tale. As Billy says, “nobody is bad or good here, or rather everyone is a bit bad and a bit good and the bad and the good moluscules get mixed up against each other and produce terrible chemical reactions.”