Guest Posts

The Borrowed Boy – Deborah Klee

I am joined today by Deborah Klee as part of the blog tour for her novel, The Borrowed Boy. Many thanks to Deborah for taking the time to write a guest post for me to share, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.


A borrowed boy, a borrowed name and living on borrowed time.

What do you put on a bucket list when you haven’t done anything with your life? No interesting job, no lovers, no family, no friends. Believing she has only weeks left to live, Angie Winkle vows to make the most of every minute.

Going back to Jaywick Sands, is top of her bucket list. Experiencing life as a grandmother is not, but the universe has other plans and when four-year-old Danny is separated from his mum on the tube, Angie goes to his rescue. She tries to return him to his mum but things do not go exactly as planned and the two of them embark on a life-changing journey.

Set in Jaywick Sands, once an idyllic Essex holiday village in the 70s, but now a shantytown of displaced Londoners, this is a story about hidden communities and our need to belong.


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Now, I will hand you over to Deborah, who is here to talk to us all about community.

One of the themes that emerged, as I wrote The Borrowed Boy, was the importance of community. This is hardly surprising as I spent several years working with communities as a social entrepreneur, enabling them to use what they already had – skills, experience, networks, and facilities, to make their community a better place to live.

In The Borrowed Boy, Angie Winkle and Nikoleta both experience feelings of exclusion. Angie has spent forty years watching life pass her by. She has no sense of belonging. Low self-esteem, social awkwardness, and feelings of shame as a result of something in her past, have isolated her.

However, in Jaywick Sands, Angie finds a place where she belongs. Her knowledge of car mechanics, skills as a machinist, and above all her ability to care for others, mean that for the first time in her life she feels needed.

Nikoleta comes from a close community in Poland, where she grew up. She moves to London with her partner and his son, with expectations for a new life full of opportunity. Losing Danek, her partner’s son, on the day of her arrival, is the worst possible start to her life in the UK. She feels excluded because her English is poor, and unused to travel she lacks confidence in an unfamiliar city. 

There are many reasons why a person might feel isolated:

  • Moving to a new area
  • Losing a partner, husband, or wife
  • Retirement
  • A new parent
  • Disability
  • Low self-esteem

We may all feel a sense of isolation at different times in our lives, from being excluded on the school playground, to becoming a new mum at home- lost and bewildered in an unfamiliar role and missing work colleagues. Fortunately, for most of us, these feelings pass. However, there are some people, like Angie, who always feel that they are on the outside looking in.

Community is not necessarily a cosy village from bygone days. Communities can be found everywhere and anywhere. Community is more than having followers and likes on social media, it is where people connect in a meaningful way to exchange something of value. We all have skills and knowledge that are valuable to somebody else. We fulfil one another’s needs, whether it is practical help and support, information, or sharing an interest. I don’t believe there is anybody in this world who does not have something of worth to share with others.

Communities have natural connectors: the man in the newsagent, the publican, or the retired doctor who always seems to know somebody who can help. In The Borrowed Boy, it is Josie at the Sea Shell café who brings people together.

Even in a busy metropolitan city, like London, there are pockets of community. Nikoleta finds community in her friends at The European Food Emporium. She also discovers another hidden community. One that is all around us, with its own rules and networks – not all communities are good. But you will have to read The Borrowed Boy to find out more.

I have been fascinated by communities for some time, as each has its own characteristics and can only really be known by its residents. Although Jaywick Sands is a real place, the community I have described is entirely fiction.  My observations as an outsider, and the stories of people who have lived, worked, or spent holidays there fired my imagination.


The Borrowed Boy - head and shoulder DKDeborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.

Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.

The Borrowed Boy, her debut, was shortlisted for the Deviant Minds Award 2019. Just Bea, her second novel will be published in 2021.

Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.





Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part on the tour.

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