by Meg Rosoff. Published by Penguin. ISBN 0-141-31801-5
Blimey – I can honestly say this is one of the best books I have ever read! Afterwards it was one of those times when I think What the fuck am I doing, trying to be a writer?!
It’s about a girl who is sent from New York to live with her cousins in the English countryside, and she suffers from anorexia and bitterness towards her stepmother. The first half of the book is about how wonderful her English family are, and the fantastic times she has on the farm with them, and how she falls in love with Edmond. All the time, there is talk of war in the city, but it didn’t really effect them.
Then all of a sudden, the tone of the book changes as the war becomes very real indeed. I have seen all the reports on telly from the Iraq war, and all the other various attacks on various countries lately; I’ve seen the pictures of people crying as they carry their dead children; but nothing has effected me more about war, than this book. It brings it home and feels so incredibly real, like it’s an autobiographical account. It is desperately sad in places and some of the images are simply horrible, but it must be read. Every prime minister and every president and every religious leader should read this book and answer A-Level English type questions on it before they are allowed to take up their post.
It feels magical to read because it is so original and the style is different – there are no speech marks as all conversations are just reported by the main character’s narration. I loved that, but at the same time, my only critisisms of this book is that there were too many words that suddenly had Capital Letters, not always for an apparant reason; and sometimes my flow of reading was interrupted by having to re-read a sentence because due to the lack of commas, I had read it wrongly and it didn’t make sense at first. A minor point really in such a fantastic book.