Luke and Jon by Robert Williams

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Luke and Jon by Robert Williams

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Gorgeous tale of grief, friendship and moving on. Moments of great clarity add true depth to this funny, sad, wise and truthful book. It has something for everyone.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Faber
ISBN: 0571249639

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Luke's mum died in a car accident a while ago and since then his father has let things go. The house has been repossessed and they are forced to move to a new town. The new place is falling down - it's all they can afford after the debts were paid. Neither Luke nor his father are really that bothered - what can a house be when there's no mum to fill it with her brightness and vivacity and love? The bottle of whisky that has begun to live in his father's hand though - that's a worry for Luke; that makes him feel rather sick inside.

And then Jon shows up. Jon is odd. Eccentric doesn't quite cut it - Jon is just plain odd. He wears 1950s clothes, he talks a bit like Rainman, and the truth is, he doesn't smell too great. The kids at school call Jon "Slackjaw" and bully him mercilessly, but Luke finds him strangely soothing company. And as their friendship deepens, Luke finds that the ice in his house begins to melt slightly - his artisan father even begins on a new and wonderfully creative piece that has the potential to become his greatest ever work.

But Jon has a secret. And the secret is discovered. And everything changes...

There are moments of startling clarity in this book that splinter your heart - I will tell the truth... There were no pieces to pick up... I should have just let them beat me up... - but it's never dour or grim. In fact, while some of Williams's words do hurt immensely, the overall feel has a real lightness of touch. In all art, I love the things that are outwardly delicate and beautiful and fragile, but inwardly full to brimming of powerful emotions and themes - pain, grief, anger, bullying, friendship, love, and loss, and this book is a wonderful example. It's quirky but not saccharine, painful but not hopeless, difficult but not hard.

Your heart bleeds for both boys right from the beginning, but Williams allows Luke his rose-tinted memories at first and so your sympathy is very much of the surface, isn't-it-awful-poor-lamb, variety. Gradually, though, as the bigger picture is revealed and we see the warts-and-all life that Luke loved and - with the death of his mother - lost, the superficiality disappears and it's not sympathy you feel, it's empathy. It's all so very real. But the world continues to turn, life goes on, and Jon arrives as the type of waif and stray Luke's mother would have welcomed, and becomes the catalyst for healing.

I read the last page of Luke and Jon with a real sense of regret that it was all over.

It's only February and I've read some wonderful books in 2010 already, but this is my favourite book of the year so far, and by a country mile too. More, please, Mr Williams, and soon.

My thanks to the good people at Faber for sending the book.

I've just reviewed No and Me by Delphine de Vigan, which I think would also appeal. Apples by Richard Milward is a much more extreme book, but I think it might appeal. You shouldn't miss The Great Harlequin Grim by Gareth Thompson or Jackdaw Summer by David Almond either. Oh, and don't forget Joe Speedboat by Tommy Wieringa.

Booklists.jpg Luke and Jon by Robert Williams is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2010.
Buy Luke and Jon by Robert Williams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Luke and Jon by Robert Williams at

Buy Luke and Jon by Robert Williams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Luke and Jon by Robert Williams at


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