Operation Eiffel Tower by Elen Caldecott
|Operation Eiffel Towe by Elen Caldecott|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Lovely kitchen sink drama in which four children must come to terms with a family break-up. Beautifully observed with believable characters and nice dollop of quirkiness.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: July 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
Jack, Ruby, Lauren and Billy live in a seaside town. Jack helps out at the crazy golf course and he's got a mean shot or two up his sleeve. Lauren likes boys, Teen Thing magazine and looking down her nose at her younger siblings. Ruby's world revolves around winning a teddy on the grab-a-bear machine in the amusement arcade. Billy is just a baby so he doesn't do very much if it doesn't involve cuddling Teddy Volvo.
So far, so everybody's family good.
But the children's parents argue. A lot. Loudly. Sometimes it's so bad that Ruby gets afraid and comes to sleep in Jack's bed. And one day it gets even worse than so bad because Dad moves out. The four junior Dempseys are afraid that Dad will never come home and so they launch Operation Eiffel Tower - a surefire plan to get their parents back together...
This book is just so beautifully observed. Each of the children react slightly differently to the crisis in their parents' marriage. Jack, the central character, is old enough to fully understand the implications for the family and he is in denial. He wants his parents to stay together at all costs and he'd do anything to make that happen. Ruby is much younger and still jealous at being supplanted by Billy as the baby of the family. So her - unrealistic! - idea is simply to sell Billy to a prospective adopting couple. Perhaps I shouldn't have laughed at that. But I did. Out loud.
Lauren, the oldest, has the most sophisticated understanding. She is taciturn like many teenagers, but she can be objective. She doesn't want to prevent a divorce at the cost of maintaining the status quo of constant rowing - she just wants the rowing to end. Each of these children represents thousands of other children of their age coping with a family breakdown, but each of them is also a fully rounded, believable character in their own right.
It's easy to read and it's funny at times and desperately sad at others. But it ends on a note of realistic hope for everyone. What more could you want?
My thanks to the good people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
For more family dramas with an original and individual voice, I'd also suggest My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher, a sad, funny and uplifting story about a family in crisis, mourning for a child killed in a terrorist attack, and A Million Angels by Kate Maryon, about a little girl coping with a father in the army and away on a tour of Afghanistan.
You can read more book reviews or buy Operation Eiffel Tower by Elen Caldecott at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Operation Eiffel Tower by Elen Caldecott at Amazon.com.
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