I’ve enjoyed both previous books I’ve read by Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now and Just in Case) particularly her use of slightly unconventional narrative styles. And, that even after fantastic success with one method, she’s mixes things up with the next. So, that whilst you can tell it is one of her books, they are unique from each other.
And that, I am pleased to say is still the case with this one. Narrated by an old man looking back on a short but intense period of his life when he was 16. It plays with both the characters and the readers perceptions.
Hilary, is sixteen years old, and, after being expelled from his two previous schools, has just been shipped off to a boarding school on the coast of East Anglia, England.
It’s obvious that Hilary feels constrained by the regimented order that the institution runs by, and when one day, whilst out on a cross country run, he meets Finn, another teenager who lives in a run down hut by-the-sea.
Immediately drawn to both Finn’s aloofness and freedom, Hilary soon returns, and bit-by-bit the two become friends.
Finn, un-marked by years of living in close proximity of other boys, in cold, dark, depressing dormitories, is a lot of things Hillary is not: mysterious, self-sufficient, free
From the start, you can tell there is something more than ‘friendship’, that Hilary is seeking from the relationship between the two. Rosoff, brilliantly captures the complexity of Hilary’s feelings, he’s attracted to Finn, idolises him, wants to be him, but the only thing he is sure of, is that he longs to spend as much time with Finn as possible.
As I mentioned at the start, Meg Rosoff, plays with everybody’s perceptions in this one, and throughout the novel there is the sense that there is more going on than you are aware of, but thankfully it’s very subtle and never gets in the way of the lovely and gentle prose.
Originally published in the UK as a YA title, and in the US as an adult title, this straddles that divide perfectly and will equally appeal to both groups.
It’s not quite my favourite of Meg Rosoff’s books, that one is still, How I Live Now, but she sets such a high standard, that’s not really saying much. 🙂
…I sighed. And yet… how was it that Finn’s silences turned my words into dust? No matter how heartfelt my thoughts, the noises I made when I was with him took on the quality of monkeys jabbering in trees. While his silence had the power to shatter glass.