"The Incredible Adam Spark" by Alan Bisset is a thought-provoking and interesting novel that challenges the reader to stop tip-toeing around people with disabilities and problems. A boy in his late teens who 'Suffers from downsyndrome' would be completely wrong, Adam Spark certainly has a love for life that he tries to spread to everyone, despite the fact he fails most of the time. The story takes Adam on a journey from being totally independent to exactly the opposite and on the way takes the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions, all directed to the main character. I intend to explore how Bisset manages to evoke the huge range of emotions through the use of characterisation and relationships.
Bisset quickly establishes the kind nature and intentions in the characterisation of his character. At a local Gala day, it's left to Adam to save the day and he tries to with great pride.
"That wean the wean save him. I have the power!"The instinct to save someone in trouble is a tribute that, no matter who has it, is admirable and would make anyone proud. We can infer from the actions we've been shown that Adam is a character who wants to do right and help people, even if it means getting himself into trouble along the way. The kindness and care that is shown in Adam creates a fondness from the reader, also due to the naivety displayed. I find myself slowly getting drawn into the book at this point, solely on the main character alone.
Another key event is when Adam is asked to steal a rangers shirt from a shop. The local gang, the H-Glen Aminalz, know that Adam is easily swayed and convince him that he deserves to have the shirt, without having to pay.
"That sortay seems like stealin to me xcept its alright for the blairgovernment? Intrsports got the rangers top and ive no? Doesnt seem right."It's clear that Adam is very much aware that what he intends to do is wrong, he's just trying to convince himself it's right. Though it's not right for people to take advantage of his naivety, it's not right for Adam to do what he does. This is the first incident where a negative emotion has been created towards Adam and without thinking, many people might find themselves disliking Adam. The incident alone would not be enough to create a hate towards Adam and so the reader may be tempted to feel sympathy towards his longing for acceptance and naivetÃÂ©, I did myself. I feel this is the first of the challenges Bisset presents to his reader, can they dislike someone despite the person having a disability? At this point I don't think the 'bad act' is bad enough.
The next key event is when Adam finds a new friend, one who doesn't try to turn him into a criminal. Bonnie is the new girl at the fast food restaurant where Adam works and the two quickly find lots of things in common. Bonnie brings a whole new mood to the story, brightening up Adam's world.
"Sometimes life's so byootiful amazin incredible like this moment."Hearing such things from such a child like and carefree character like Adam is truly heartwarming and once again the fondness returns. Due to the weakness of his previous bad behaviour, it's easy for the reader to like Adam again and forget about what he did. I think Bisset is trying to test how strongly he can get his audience to like Adam and then yet possibly in the later stages of the book make them almost detest him. A very clever way to challenge a readers opinions and feelings towards those with disability. It really does make the book much more interesting once you have thought about the way it works and why it works that way. The analysis may be more intriguing than the story itself for me.
Adam's character has been shown to be very Dependant on his sister throughout the novel and when she finally decides to do what she wants to and leave, Adam's reaction is shown to be childish and in a way pathetic.
"Adam you needtay be independent just as much as I do. I sniffed shrugged looked away. I hate her."The reader can sympathise with Adam's sister, Judy, as ithas been shown that she doesn't want to leave Adam for the sake of it, she just needs to have her own life. Because of the sympathy for Judy, the reader is made to feel aggravated by Adam and dislike him more than they possibly have so far. The naivetÃÂ© that once got Adam 'off the hook' with the reader has now turned against him and meant that the reader is infuriated and feels he's being selfish and childish. Bisset has cleverly taken the excuse for Adam's bad behaviour and made it the reason he's disliked. I really find myself grasped by the book now, the range of emotions making the plot more intriguing and thought provoking.
Another crucial aspect of this novel is the relationships Adam has. The relationship between Adam and Bonnie starts off as one filled with happiness and a strong bond of similarities. When Adam first meets Bonnie, everything changes in his life; dark to light and sad to happy.
"Shes pretty shes bonnie shes talkin bout love love LOVE. Dont get no better than that dudes!"The strong connection between Adam and Bonnie is one that truly brings a smile to the readers face. It's a very pleasant thing to see Adam to be so happy because of one girl when he has many reasons to be sad weighed against the one to be happy. The relationship with Bonnie lets the reader see a kind, friendly and honestly nice person in Adam which can argue that his niavety is his downfall when it comes to good and bad. Bisset's choice of character for Adam to meet works well and Bonnie helps us understand even more of Adam's thoughts and feelings. I feel that the relationship brings out a very, in a way, proud feeling from the reader and myself.
The relationships seems to be going well until, in a key incident, Adam hurts Bonnie's feelings without realising what he's done. Bonnie is very emotional about her uncle who passed away and sometimes gets sad while thinking about him and when she does get sad on an outing with Adam, Adam gets annoyed and angry at the little attention he's getting.
"I mean am i no important to ye bonnie? Forget sparky whos still alive, lets just talk about great uncle wullie whos pushin up the daisies!"Adam can't comprehend how his words hurt Bonnie and because the reader can, the reader feels the furry and annoyance towards Adam creeping back. Adam's shown to be insensitive, hurtful and immature which is irritating for the reader because they know he can be mature and think about things before hurting people. Bisset makes the situation believable as Adam's immature and selfish side as been shown previously and yet this time the emotions from the reader are much stronger. The stronger emotions are due to the fact that Bonnie is very hurt here and we see the hurt, Adam's narration doesn't switch to something else straight away, it lingers there to show the full impact of Adam's words. A clever and interesting twist from Bisset leaves the reader annoyed and irritated by Adam's behaviour. At this point I fully share the views of any other reader, Adam has done wrong and his niavety or disability can't be blamed for it, he was aware and capable of stopping himself. The end of the relationship dampens the mood of the text and also the readers mood.
Possibly the most important relationship in the story is that of Adam and his big sister Judy. Due to the deaths of both of their parents, Judy has been taking care of Adam and caused his dependence on her. Because Adam is so used to Judy being around to look after him, he can't imagine anything except Judy being at home with him.
"So Judith! When are you moving to glasgow? Snaps ma head round - glesga? I cant movetay glesga, jude, ive got a job here."Adam automatically assumes he would be moving with Judy because he can't imagine not having her around. The dependence and need for Judy from Adam is very sad and the reader empathises with Adam. Though the reader knows Judy wants to leave and lead her own life, it's also known that Adam wouldn't be very good on his own. It's an unbearable thought to have to choose between living your ow life at the expense of your brother or staying with him but never being happy. This again is selfish of Adam but because he's always been with people and never on his own, it's understandable. Bisset creates a very hard dilemma for Judy which creates a sadness from the reader for Adam. I think the reader feels the impossible task of deciding what to do and it leaves the relationship on a lot of strain until Judy makes her choice.
Eventually, the inevitable happens and Judy does make her choice, her choice to have her own life. Adam, of course, takes this badly and decides to pretend he doesn't care.
"Cant change anything dudes. I turns to judy i shrugs i just says: get yer stuff and go."The reaction is predictable of Adam due to behaviour we've seen before. It's easy to understand that he's hurt but he doesn't have to act the way he does, so unnecessarily hurtful towards judy. The reaction seems childish and selfish, tributes Adam seems to display a lot. His disability or naivetÃÂ© has nothing to do with this and so the reader can only blame him for being selfish. The emotion towards Adam from the reader, at this point, is anger and slight detest. Bisset as shown Adam to be spoilt and expect everything he wants to happen. The reader can't help but be angry at him, he wants to ruin his sisters life just so he can be happy, he's being unreasonable and unfair. I find myself utterly furious here, knowing how he must have left his sister feeling.
Though it sounds depressive and sad, the story finishes on a neutral note. Adam makes up with Judy, maturing and accepting that she has to have her own life. As for Bonnie, Adam runs into her and sees her with a baby who looks peculiarly like him, it doesn't click in his mind that it might be his but he does feel a connection to it. We are left with Adam running after Bonnie and so the outcome is truly left open for the reader to decide. The huge range of emotions Bisset creates from the reader to the character added to the whole story, making it intriguing and challenging the reader to look past a disability a person might have and just feel the natural emotion towards them. I found this to be a truly fantastic piece of writing and very thought provoking. In conclusion, Bisset has achieved a wonderful spectrum of emotions, all adding up to an ending that depends on whether the reader is optimistic or pessimistic. A great novel to read and an even better novel to try and unravel.
Bibliography: The Incredible Adam Spark - Alan Bisset