‘The Weight of Silence’ is a tense thriller which focuses on two little girls being discovered missing one summer morning. Seven-year-old Calli has se...more‘The Weight of Silence’ is a tense thriller which focuses on two little girls being discovered missing one summer morning. Seven-year-old Calli has selective mutism brought on by a tragedy in her early years. Petra is Calli’s best friend and also works as her voice. But no-one knows where either of the girls are.
This non-linear narrative tells the story from various character’s points of view as well as revisiting the past to reveal family secrets. The book follows Calli and Petra’s parents, as well as the sheriff involved in the search and Calli’s older brother Ben.
I found this book a real page-turner with a compelling narrative. For a debut novel, this is quite a feat. Intelligently and sensitively written, Gudenkauf manages to explore the intricacies of family life as well as the effect secrets have on people.
The prose is almost lyrical in places and Gudenkauf manages to make you desperate to reach the conclusion of this tale. (less)
After reading ‘Breaking Away’ by Anna Gavalda, I realised that it’s easy to miss the beautiful moments in life because you’re too preoccupied with res...moreAfter reading ‘Breaking Away’ by Anna Gavalda, I realised that it’s easy to miss the beautiful moments in life because you’re too preoccupied with responsibilities.
I found this novel easy-to-follow and a perfect holiday read, nice and light with a realistic portrayal of families. The characters are easy to identify with the growing nostalgia of a family who, nearing middle age, reflect on missed opportunities and disappointments.
I found the story both funny and touching in places and I really empathised with Garance, the main character. Her love for her siblings is touching, and I really understood her growing irritation towards her neat-freak sister-in-law. Leaving duty behind, even just for one day, is something I, and most adults, would love to do. If you feel too bound up by responsibilities, I would recommend you read ‘Breaking Away’.
This book is about getting older and lamenting a lost youth which is definitely something I identify with. However, I would have liked more resolution at the end of the story. All in all, Gavalda’s novel is about realising that life may not have turned out how you expected, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less amazing. (less)
The beginning of this book sees the title character, Skippy, die during a doughnut-eating competition with his friend Ruprecht. This book not only tel...moreThe beginning of this book sees the title character, Skippy, die during a doughnut-eating competition with his friend Ruprecht. This book not only tells us what happens to Skippy before his untimely death but also what impact Skippy’s death has on the people close to him.
Paul Murray’s novel seems, for quite some time, to be something akin to ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ and I found it difficult to care about some of the characters. Many of the privileged boarders at Dublin’s Seabrook College for Boys aren’t particularly likeable. The characters – from boffin Ruprecht to beautiful but messed up Lori – are well-drawn and very believable. Ruprecht’s room-mate Daniel ‘Skippy’ Juster has a lot on his mind, including his burgeoning romance with Lori as well as the fact that Carl, the school psycho, seems to have it in for him among other things.
The list of characters is rather extensive and I found myself getting confused. However, I eventually worked out who was who and found each narrative equally compelling.
‘Skippy Dies’ has laughs, romance, and heartache and even a little bit of time travel. It’s a great, up-to-date school saga with a power-mad acting head, a drug-dealing bully and a History teacher who doesn’t know what he wants from life.
Paul Murray has quite a unique talent – he manages to balance both tragedy and comedy succinctly. His honest account of modern youth is both disarming and heartbreaking. My only criticism is that, for a school saga, this book is really rather long with no particular decisive ending. (less)
It's 1891 and Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle. She's left in a decrepit New England mansion, miles from anywhere, and is banned from readi...moreIt's 1891 and Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle. She's left in a decrepit New England mansion, miles from anywhere, and is banned from reading. Left alone in the house with her younger brother Giles and a group of servants, Florence teaches herself to read against her uncle's wishes and talks to herself. During the night, Florence sleepwalks and is worried about a dream in which Giles is threatened. Sometimes, Florence fakes her sleepwalking in order to find more out about her shadowy past.
Following the death of their first governess, her replacement - Miss Taylor - mysteriously appears and Florence becomes convinced Taylor is the malevolent spirit intent on doing her brother harm. With no adults to confide in, Florence is left to deal with Miss Taylor herself.
This is a wonderful ghost story with many twists and turns. Initially, the way in which Florence narrates the story is hard to get to grips with but it is a very original narration and I felt I really was really reading a child's account.
The relationships between Florence and her brother, as well as the adults around them are well-explained and the friendship between Florence and her asthmatic friend is a great side story. I don't want to spoil the story but there is a lot of ambiguity at the end. I would have preferred more resolution.
'Luke and Jon' is a heart-warming tale of Jon who, after the death of his mother, moves to a scruffy northern town with his almost entirely mute fathe...more'Luke and Jon' is a heart-warming tale of Jon who, after the death of his mother, moves to a scruffy northern town with his almost entirely mute father who is drinking heavily. Jon meets Luke, a boy in 1950s clothes with a side parting and a twitch. The kids at school refer to Luke as "slackjaw". Luke has a secret, though, and when Jon finds it out it changes everything for Jon and his dad.
'Luke and Jon' is a coming of age story about family, death, depression, friendship and redemption. Robert Williams' debut novel is really impressively written and has a lot of heart. It's not all doom and gloom, though, it's heart warming and, at times, funny.
Shortlisted, rightfully, for several awards, 'Luke and Jon' won the Betty Trask Award - and rightfully so. (less)