Hurricane Wills by Sally Grindley
|Hurricane Wills by Sally Grindley|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A beautifully written story about the family tensions caused by a child with attention deficit disorder, told from the perspective of a long-suffering sibling. In the end family ties triumph but the road is long and difficult. A tricky balance, skilfully done.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: July 2007|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
There's a hurricane smashing through our house. There's a hurricane smashing, trashing, bashing through our house. CRASH! BANG! WALLOP! The doors are slamming, chairs are falling, cushions flying, feeting running, voices shouting, "STOP! STOP! STOP!" I'm hiding in my bedroom. I've barricaded my door. I'm not scared, but I don't want to be caught up in it, and I don't want the hurricane turning my room upside down, inside out. A hurricane can cause total devastation. It can flatten everything in its path. Can you even begin to imagine that? Now try to imagine living with one. I bet you can't."
What an opening! The hurricane is Wills. And his younger brother Chris is barricaded into his bedroom. Wills has attention deficit disorder and it doesn't really matter how many barricades Chris puts up, there's absolutely no escaping him, even in the middle of the night, when he's bouncing up and down on the bed while Chris tries to sleep. Even Chris' father can't take any more. He's moved out. Chris' mother looks exhausted all the time. Chris does his best to help out, but inside his head, he can't do much about the seething mass of resentment writhing around. His family is living apart - because of Wills. He gets little attention - because of Wills. He has to do his homework in the library - because of Wills. It seems to Chris as though everything is because of Wills. And you can't really blame him. And things take a turn for the worse when Wills falls in with a bad crowd and Chris finds a stack of money under his bed...
What I like about Sally Grindley is that she just jumps straight in. The first page of Hurricane Wills tells you everything you need to know, and it makes you want to read on. What follows is an immensely sympathetic portrait of a family struggling to cope with an ADD child in its midst. Nobody is excoriated or blamed - even poor Wills. After all, he really can't help it. Chris, who could appear unsympathetic, doesn't. He's a kind, well-balanced child who is trying his best. His resentment is simply natural. Mum doesn't understand or even realise the extent to which Chris feels neglected, but you can hardly blame her. Even Dad, who escapes the pandemonium to a flat of his own, doesn't seem blameworthy - just desperate to do something, anything, to make things better.
What strikes you about Chris and his family is how hard they're all trying. And eventually, a crisis looms, and it's this crisis that proves the catharsis allowing them to begin to rebuild a satisfactory family life. So, while Hurricane Wills is a fairly gritty and realistic book for young readers of about nine to twelve, it's also an optimistic story in which problems are surmountable, particularly within a family whose members genuinely care about one another. This is probably Chris' biggest problem in the book, actually - he does love his brother and he feels terribly guilty for resenting him. When outsiders criticise Wills, Chris is often quick to jump in. When Wills is up to no good, Chris finds it hard to tell tales on him. And this love is reciprocated, because in the end, when it really counts, Wills comes through for Chris.
Hurricane Wills is highly recommended for all junior lovers of realistic fiction.
Elizabeth Laird's Red Sky in the Morning also talks about a child with a disabled sibling, while Mark Haddon's A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time explores the psyche of a child on the autistic spectrum.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hurricane Wills by Sally Grindley at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hurricane Wills by Sally Grindley at Amazon.com.
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