Saturday, May 24, 2008
Publisher Review: London Calling
by Edward Bloor. Reviewed for Random House. Find more information about this book on their website here.
(And first, a word about publisher reviews on kittenpie reads.)
This book is a fascinating blend of historical fiction, family issues, and the supernatural. In it, Martin is hating school and weighed down by the accepted order of things based on history in both his school and his family. He begins to be angered when it is clear that nothing will change as long as this version of history remains entrenched, and he sinks into a depression. It is only the arrival of an antique radio that seems to connect him to a past time and give him a mission that finally shakes him into some action. He begins to research, at first to figure out if he is crazy or dreaming, then because of growing interest, and finally, to also create some temporary solution to his issues at school by doing independent research projects from home. Through his feverish dedication, he wins over his sister, his father, and his mother, and is allowed to go on the errand of a lifetime, creating a healing on many fronts that in fact changes quite a few things in the end.
I'm not giving too much away here because it is a wonderful book to watch unfold, not in terms of suspense, so much as watching Martin grow and learn, and seeing how he inspires changes in others around him. There are in this book subplots that are skillfully woven directly into the main thrust of the book, rather than being distractions as subplots can be when handled less deftly. While doing his research and following his intuition, Martin is also dealing with issues of identity, of the weight of expectations, and with an alcoholic father, all of which fold back into what he is uncovering and his pondering about what he can and cannot change. By the end of this, Martin has grown in amazing ways, and has helped everyone around him grow, too. Quite a feat for a young man just coming of age, really.
What I am most impressed with about this book is how it successfully blends enough action (in both his school struggles and the wartime setting of his time travels) to keep it interesting with a mystical quality that is not pure fantasy and with an inward-looking, serious look at self. This is pretty rare stuff, especially in a book with true boy appeal. I can think of few that manage such a balance, though I think that Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life may be a contender as well. Plus, it warms a librarians heart to see research become so important and life-changing to someone! All in all, this was a great book, and while I think it is decidedly a teen work, I wouldn't hesitate to give it to anyone but the most struggling of readers.