The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty
|The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty|
|Reviewer: Hannah Crookes|
|Summary: An entertaining story following several members of a family through a difficult and revealing year.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: August 2008|
|Publisher: Young Picador|
Listen Taylor's father has just moved in with his girlfriend and they are adopted into the Zing family, with all of its delightful eccentricities and unusual behaviour – the Zings meet every Friday night for dinner and then disappear into the garden shed to work on the 'Zing Family Secret'. Marbie Zing is terrified of doing something wrong and losing Nathaniel and Listen. Her sister Fancy is becoming increasingly disillusioned with her home life, and her daughter's year two teacher is coming to terms with a break up. The stories of these people come together to create a tale of life, love, and ultimately, what being part of a family means.
As an admirer of Jaclyn Moriarty's books, I was looking forward to reading The Spell Book of Listen Taylor. My reaction was mixed. Moriarty is very good at taking separate strands of a story and weaving seemingly insignificant details together. While I usually enjoy this writing style, it was a bit too abstract, especially at the beginning, making it very difficult to pick up the threads of the story. The first few chapters were a muddle of different characters with no apparent connections. Once I'd battled through the first pages the story picked up, with clever connections between the separate storylines.
Listen Taylor was full of wonderfully eccentric characters, though almost unrealistically so. Noticeably, the least erratic character, twelve-year-old Listen, is also the most relatable. She's starting secondary school, learning to be a part of a big family for the first time, quietly struggling to find her place in the world. Unusually for this author, most of the characters in Listen Taylor are adults. Honestly, I find Moriarty's quirky writing style more suited to teenage narrators. It's also difficult to identify the target audience.
The plot twists and connections between the characters, while fairly cleverly played out, were fairly easy to predict. The plot as a whole was also largely unbelievable, and paired with the eccentric writing style, the world comes across as artificially innocent, even when dealing with subject matter like affairs and relationship breakdowns. I'm sure this effect is deliberate, and makes for a rather unconventional book that doesn't really fit into any categories.
I enjoyed The Spell Book of Listen Taylor. It's light and entertaining, yet deals with intelligent subject matter. It's not a typical teenage book, but it's not a typical adult book either, more a half-breed of the two.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
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