I returned from holidays to find a copy of Ira Socol’s book ‘The Drool Room’ in the post, a gift from Pam Moran. I found myself unable to put it down, similar to ‘The Housekeeper + the Professor‘ but that’s where the similarity ends. I’m finding it hard to describe my thoughts on the book – it is such a personal, moving and brutal book in some ways as Ira described his experiences through school and through his life. To say that his journey through school was difficult doesn’t even come close as he was a kid with Dyslexia and Attention Disorder Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) back in the days when very little was known or recognised about these disorders. I’ll be upfront here and declare my lack of knowledge of these disorders, particularly ADHD, but this book has given me a real insight into the problems that so many children have, as they attempt to make their way through an education system that may not work for them. I find books written from a child’s perspective, which deal with difficult topics, an uncomfortable read so the first half of Ira’s book was difficult – I was like the child behind the sofa looking out though her fingers at a scary movie! But it drew me in and I couldn’t put it down. I’ve been very lucky, both in my own education and that of my children so far, that we have all had an easy run in school. I know it’s not like that for everyone though, and reading this book brought me back to my own schooldays, as I recalled some of my classmates being ridiculed, made to feel stupid, physically pushed around and worse by some teachers.
As Ira moved on to give an insight into his life after school, and his time as a cop in New York City, you got the sense of a man on the edge managing to hang on by his fingertips and stay in control. The brutal honesty which which Ira tells his story is what makes this book so powerful for me. Telling your story warts and all, laying your soul bare for all to see, is not an easy thing to do, and yet this is what Ira has done. What also really worked for me was the novel in stories format – it isn’t a book with a very distinct start, middle and end – instead it crosses over with snippets of stories which give insights and creates lots of questions, some answered some not. For me it was a book of two halves, his early school years and his time as a cop with very little connecting the two or extending beyond that and yet that’s all that’s needed. At the end we get a tiny peak at the motivation behind the book; reaching out to other kids who are struggling, with an authenticity that you can’t argue with. And this is the Ira that I have begun to know through my various interactions, both virtual and in person.
My final thought on the book is I suppose the motivation that drives many of us – our children. There are many characters and relationships dealt with in the book but the most intangible of the characters in some ways is the author’s son and yet there he is at all the crucial points in the latter half of the book. So much is left unsaid and yet what little is said says it all.