"I found Jean's friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live." There's been a murder, but the police don't care. It was only a homeless old man after all. Kieran cares. He's made a promise, and when you say something out loud, that means you're going to do it, for real. He's going to find out what really happened. To Colin. And to his grandma, who just stopped coming round one day.
It's a good job Kieran's a master of observation, and knows all the detective tricks of the trade. But being a detective is difficult when you're Kieran Woods. When you're amazing at drawing but terrible at fitting in. And when there are dangerous secrets everywhere, not just outside, but under your own roof.
Smart is the story of a young british boy with unnamed social difficulties who finds a homeless man drowned in a canal and in determined to find his killer.
Kieran's problems aren't apparent in his narrative, it's only from the reactions of these around him, and that he has a classroom helper, that marks him out from other children. He is kind, loyal, empathetic and, as the title suggests, extremely smart.
He is bullied by his mother's boyfriend, step-son, and children at his school. It is horrible and brutal. found it really difficult to read, not just because of what happens to Kieran, but because her represents real children all over the country. He takes the beatings and the bullying in his stride though and keeps going. He draws incredible pictures, drawing from his complete love of Lowery (the painter). It helps him process what is happening around him that he doesn't immediately understand.
The writing is so beautifully simplistic, and the way Kieran thinks is perfectly portrayed. It makes us think - what can we do when we think completely 'normally', but don't act the way society wanted us to? I'd like to think I'd be his friend regardless of how he looked, just like Karwarna at his school.
It's such a small, understated book but it's beautiful.