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Back To Front (from The Three Button Trick)
(Nicola Barker)

"Nick was very special. Yes, he was. He was". The short story Back To Front ends with these words. Simple words, and yet so powerful that the reader is left in no doubt about the themes of the stiry. Acceptance. Loneliness. The search for individuality.Dealing with a fussy parent. Rebellion. Social incompetance. The loss of identity. Nicola Barker has written this story in a very plain language in order to stress the importance of the frustrated feelings expressed in the characters. The most dominant theme being the loss of identity - the main character will never find his own identity if he does not rebel against the identity put upon him by others. Loneliness which unevitably follows in such a situation. It also deals with the search for individuality by means of making a lot of fuss about one self and describes vividly how trapped a person can feel when being lonely, socially incompetent and desperately seeking acceptance. The story takes place in British middle class suburbia, period unkknown and also irrelevant for the plot. Barker very cleverly uses long, descriptive flash-backs in the beginning and then leads us to the current life of Nick, the main character. An effective way of showing us how much Nick's birth and therefor past is part of his current life.Barker emphasizesNick's insignificance and insecurity, whether in relation to his family or people he meet throughout his short life with a line like : "You'd almost believe, Nick thought, standing in th edoorway, unheeded, that he'd gone and written that paper himself, with all the fuss she makes over it." Nick has had his identity made into that of a "special" person. He isn't. He's slightly anatomically different, but otherwise a perfectly normal youth, albeit his isolated upbringing has made him socially very insecure. His choice of rebellion against this lack of identity is to make a fuss about himself and crave attention. He just knows he's special. He must be because he's been told often enough. His one life ambition is fulfilled when the plot takes a weird turn and the story ends - he became mysterious... A fatal change is imminent in Nick and had his surroundings been different, he and his strangely located heart might have been heard properly...This short story is a great read, very simple and yet stays in your memory for quite a a while.

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