I is someone else

 "For "I" is someone else. ... That much is clear to me:I am a spectator at the blossoming of my own thought:  I look at it and listen to it:  I make  a sweep with the baton and down in the depths the symphony begins to stir."

So wrote the great French poet Arthur Rimbaud in a letter to his ex-teacher at the age of about 19.   Madness or wisdom?   Or a bit of both?  Whichever, I borrowed the  phrase for the title of this book about a young man's search for identity in the heady climate of the late sixties, with young people in rebellion against a restrictive and hypocritical morality, and on the move as never before.  Stephen sets out on a journey that he isn't expecting - a  journey that takes him to Istanbul and Afghanistan, and at the same time into himself, his family, his school, his own madness.    

When I'd finished writing it, I realised I had more to say,  both about the late sixties and about the bigger question of who we are and what we're doing here, so I wrote a sequel;  "Tell me Lies", about falling in love and the search for inner peace.Between them these books say everything I have to say about anything.

"I is Someone Else" is translated into several languages, and was critically applauded.  The Scotsman listed it sixth in the top ten young adult books of 2003, and the Financial Times made it "one of the twelve best children's books" of the year.

Here are some  excerpts from reviews:

ACHUKA website:
I is Someone Else by Patrick Cooper (Andersen)
A 15-year-old schoolboy hitches a ride in 1966 that leads to adventure on the Hippy Trail. Packed with tension-filled incident, both in the real-time and recollected narratives, this is a wonderful novel that would make a terrific film or TV drama and is quintessential Young Adult reading.

A boy takes a spontaneous trip across hashish-soaked Europe and Asia in this harsh, vivid chronicle of coping with half-buried trauma. It is 1966 and 15-year-old Stephen is sent on an exchange from England to France. On the ferry, he meets glamorous hippie strangers who have seen his missing older brother Rob in Turkey. Stephen makes a sudden decision to ditch France and go to Istanbul in hopes of finding his brother. The journey stretches through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan before ending in India. Stephen changes companions several times along the way, negotiating betrayal, confusion and the drugs that are everywhere. As he wrestles with memories of having been molested by his favorite teacher, his reasons for finding Rob shift. Literary references (Rimbaud, Hesse, Yeats) and changing cultures color the atmosphere as Stephen descends into a dissociated hallucination of emotional pain. Cooper is spot-on in his portrayal of sexual abuse and confrontation, which is unusually realistic and nuanced. The ray of hope at the end is deeply relieving. Hard and well done.

In the year of 1966, Stephen is on his way to a French exchange visit, when he meets two hippies who tell him they know where his older brother Rob is, who's been missing for over a year. So begins Stephen's pilgrimage, which takes him from Turkey to Iran to Afghanistan to Pakistan to India. But Stephen is not only searching for his brother, but also running away from an event in his own past, which is gradually revealed. This is a wonderful novel, written in a style as lucid and compelling as that of Patricia Highsmith. It's sexually explicit, but neither moralistic nor embarrassing. Buy it for any kid of 14 or over. Or for yourself.

A brilliant 'road novel' that wins on several counts. It is a fascinating look at the world of the 1960s, the sense of elation and new-found freedom of the 'hippy' generation. It is also a marvellously atmospheric account of a journey through a Near East not yet devastated by wars and ideologies, a place of enchantment edged with danger where Westerners could still (if they were careful) travel more or less unhindered. Above all, though, it is a compelling account of a boy's early coming of age as he pursues a quest that takes him further into the unknown physical world and deeper into himself. The drugs and sex are an important element (it's the 1960s after all) and strong stuff sometimes for young readers, but nothing most in their mid-late teens couldn't handle. Highly recommended for ages 15+ and adults young and old. A triumph.

Never trust a SquirrelO'Driscoll's Treasurewings to flyI is someone elseTell me Lies