Walls by Emma Fischel
|Walls by Emma Fischel|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Magical and moving, this is an engaging story about a troubled boy, trying to find his way through difficult times with his family and friends.|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: June 2018|
|Publisher: OUP Oxford|
|External links: Author's website|
When Ned's parents decide they can no longer stay together they come up with what they think is an ingenious plan, which is to divide their house in two, so that there will be a mum side and a dad side, and the children can spend a week on either side at a time. Whilst his parents hope this will be less disruptive, Ned is incensed by the walls that spoil his beautiful home and stop him from moving through the house as he used to. The walls make him angry, and that anger grows and grows until one day, Ned suddenly discovers that the walls are no longer important because he can walk through them!
Family breakdowns are almost always difficult, and this story deals with the issues in a really unusual and interesting way. I thought it was great how utterly incensed Ned is about the walls, especially as you can sense that it isn't really just the walls he's upset about, but actually the changes to his family. His anger felt very immediate, and very real, so you're both unsettled by it and upset for Ned. The family drama fuses really well with the sci fi storyline of Ned discovering he can walk through walls, and I liked the realisation of this barriers to Ned's normal family life appearing & frustrating him.
I also really liked the explorations of friendships, and the challenges that Ned faces in building and maintaining friendships at school. With thoughts around bullying, best friends, classroom cliques and what happens when a friendship breaks down, the book looks at lots of different ideas and themes, tying them all together in way that manages to be both funny and moving.
Ned isn't always the most likable character. He's so very stubborn and set in his ways and views. And yet, as readers we can see why he's experiencing those emotions, and so we understand his reasoning and do, mostly, forgive him. He does obsess about things rather, and there were just some occasions when I felt sorry for him, rather than finding it funny. He becomes so irate about things, and as you see him failing to deal with it I did worry for him. It felt as if he had undiagnosed autism, or that there were other issues behind his behaviour, not just his parents separating, so I did wish, at times, that this would be addressed. Ultimately though things end in a much better place for Ned than they begin, so at least I stopped worrying by the end! It would be a helpful book for other children going through similar situations, perhaps prompting them to talk about how they're feeling, rather than bottling everything up. It's also just a really good story, perfect for those around 8 to 12.
Further reading suggestion: You might also enjoy Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford.
You can read more book reviews or buy Walls by Emma Fischel at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Walls by Emma Fischel at Amazon.com.
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