Stonebird by Mike Revell
|Stonebird by Mike Revell|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Gargoyles are wonderful things – and they can be dangerous too. But for Liam, facing a grandmother who's forgotten who she is, an older sister who's skipping school, and a mum who drinks to cope, it's worth the risk. He's going to ask Stonebird for help.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: February 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
People keep telling Liam he's the man of the house since his dad walked out on the family and went to live with his girlfriend in Australia, even though that's quite a burden to put on the shoulders of a ten-year-old. He tries his hardest to live up to everyone's expectations, but it's not easy: the family has to move house and school to be nearer Gran, who's suffering from dementia; his mum is falling apart because she simply can't cope with the pain of losing her remaining parent in this way, and his older sister is more interested in her new boyfriend than anything Liam's going through. And that's before the usual new kid in school bullying begins.
Mysteries abound in this new neighbourhood: what is the bizarre creature of the night that makes his dog Daisy bark so wildly? What is the secret his gran has concealed about her childhood, and which is now probably forgotten and lost forever? Why does Matt from his class hate him so much? And why does the new teacher know so much about him? Maybe the old diary Liam finds in the garage under a pile of rubbish will provide some answers.
This is a gentle book, about love and loss, but that's not to say it won't appeal to more lively readers. Peril and fear are rarely too far away from Liam, and he runs the risk more than once of causing danger and pain through his actions, however well-meant. The rough and tumble of a contemporary school is set alongside the wonder of story-telling sessions led by a skilled and charismatic teacher, and the fact that Liam feels all alone in a family where everyone has their own preoccupations only serves to heighten the tension. But the story is, above all, about memory – that terrible and fickle thing that can allow you the relief of forgetting or force you to confront over and over the mistakes and miseries of the past. A harsh word, uttered in grief, that destroys a person's world; the fading mind of a once energetic and caring woman who no longer recognises her own child, and even the brief and enigmatic words on a tombstone – all aspects of the past with effects still felt in the present. It is a beautiful, delicate story about a boy who is just trying to do the right thing for everyone, and it will provoke much thought and discussion.
This story has something of the feel of Philip Caveney's work about it: the extraordinary intruding on the mundane with astonishing consequences. Crow Boy and Seventeen Coffins are both well worth reading.
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