Monday, February 09, 2009

Brilliant books

Either I’ve lost my critical faculties or I’ve read some stonkingly good books lately. For the first time in my life I’m keeping track of what I read – you can see which ones I’m referring to over to the left. I so wish I’d done this all my reading life.

I’ve just finished The Dead of Summer by Camilla Way. I’m not sure how I’d missed seeing this title around but I had and it only came to my attention when someone nominated it as their choice for book club. It wasn’t available here so I Amazoned it. I was unmoved by the cover … it looked so ordinary; I read the back and promptly forgot any of the details when asked about it at the last meeting. So, my expectations were fairly low.

It was fabulous. I really enjoyed it.

The story is told by twenty year old Anita to a child psychiatrist, ‘Dr Barton’.
The narrative is intercut with the original reports from 1986 of Anita’s interviews with Dr Barton. It recounts the events of one summer after Anita, a thirteen year old Pakistani girl, has moved to Lewisham with her family, following the death of her mother.

Her second paragraph tells us: ‘By the end of that summer three of us were dead.” She cuts out newspaper reports of child crimes, and tells us that her friend Kyle is the most famous of the mini monsters. Of course it doesn’t go entirely as we expect.

She starts at her new school where she meets Denis who leads her to Kyle, who lives almost opposite her. The three of them form a friendship; all they appear to have in common is their being outsiders, those ostracised by other children.

Camilla Way captures the voices of the kids; the cruelty, the tedium of summer holidays, the feelings of isolation and detachment from their families. I particularly loved Anita’s sisters. They had tiny parts to play but they were drawn so expertly, they lived.

Now I have to lend it to someone else to read. It’s not available here in Bangkok so we have to pass around the available copies. I don’t want to lend it out …I want to read it again and see how she did it.

Little Bird, Camilla Way’s second novel, is due out in August 2009.


Debs said...

I haven't seen this book around either, but it sounds fabulous. I'll have to add it to my list of books to buy.

JJ said...

Debs, I do recommend it. I had several moments during it where I said 'Ahhhh! That's how to do it...' It was on one of the Love reading mail outs, but I missed it!

HelenMHunt said...

It sounds great. And I think we all do that thing where we try to dissect what the writer has done and how. Sometimes I get so carried away with the book that I forget to do it though.

JJ said...

Helen, mostly I get carried away and don't do it, but several times with this I found myself stopping just to enjoy something. It was brilliant.

KAREN said...

Thanks for the review, it sounds really good :o)

wordtryst said...

Hm, sounds like I should look out for this. When I read a good one it's hard to be analytical because I get totally lost in the story. :(