Love the idea of Hogwarts? Think again.
Boarding school tale reveals a hidden world of abuse and bullying
SAN FRANCISCO – J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter has captured worldwide attention for years, keeping readers enthralled with tales from Harry, Hermoine and Ron’s picturesque boarding-school lives. But it’s not all magic—what if the romantic vision of boarding schools has a darker side? And what do you do with bullies like Draco when you don’t have a magic wand?
In his debut novel, Patch (M&K AuthorHouse, October 2010, ISBN 978-0-615-37877-0), YA author Mucheru Njaga illustrates what happens at Prince of Wales Boarding School, fondly nicknamed “Patch,” when teen bullying and cruelty are allowed free reign. Through the protagonist Gabriel’s struggles, Patch helps readers understand the origins and complexities of harassment, providing a benchmark for a modern-day narrative in bullying.
“My goal is to shed light on the growing epidemic of teenage bullying,” says Njaga, who draws on his personal boarding school experiences in the book. “Abuse of power can shape the very fabric of a society if left unchecked.”
Set in the serene countryside of East Africa, Patch follows Gabriel, a troubled American teenager who is transferred to an international all-boys boarding school for the wealthy and privileged. He soon comes to find that behind the high walls of the Prince of Wales Boarding School lies a world of physical and verbal abuse, intimidation and bullying, ruled by a group of well-established student leaders known as “Prefects.” Using the brutal sport of rugby, freshman Gabriel defies the status quo and challenges the authority of the prefects for the first time, forever changing what it means to be in Patch.
An alumni of the Prince of Wales Boarding School, Njaga experienced Patch from both the student and Prefect perspective—as a victim of the abusive system and one of its perpetuators. Since he understands both sides of what it means to be bullied, he is dedicated to bullying prevention by stigmatizing bullying as a cowardly act rooted in fear.
Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Njaga moved to New York City after his time at Prince of Wales Boarding School, where he studied creative writing at Hunter College. He currently lives in San Francisco with his fiancée and is working on a screenplay adaptation of Patch in addition to the book sequel. For more information on Mucheru Njaga or Patch, please visit www.mnjaga.com.