Saturday, 25 August 2012

Just Henry by Michelle Magorian

I am always a little bit reluctant to read books by Michelle Magorian.  I love Goodnight Mister Tom so much, that no books really at all, let alone others by Magorian, really ever measure up.  I tried to love Back Home, but I didn't really. A Little Love Song was a bit odd and scary. 

It took years before I got back on the proverbial horse, and I was in my early 20s before I read Cuckoo in the Nest, but I loved it.  The theatre theme made it a little different, and it had a little more of the masterful characterisation that made Mister Tom so wonderful.

Just Henry came out in 2008, and I read it this week.  It turns out I loved it.  However, Magorian has a very set rhythm to her books, and I found I was flinching half way through, as I knew something dreadful was going to happen to break the fragile equilibrium. 

It always works like this:

  • WW2 or post WW2 family with ishooooos.
  • New characters emerge and ishoooos start to be dealt with.
  • Some kind of resolution reached, although generally not to the satisfaction of all characters.
  • Some kind of hideous disaster strikes (eg kidnapped by nasty family, sent to hideous boarding school, sent away from loved one)
  • Final, satisfactory resolution is reached.
I really cared about the characters here, and rushed the last third, wanting to reach that happy time at the end of the book where all is resolved.  There were some very obvious morals to this tale, and I felt that it got a little preachy at times "BE NICE TO PEOPLE EVEN IF THEIR MUM AND DAD ARE ||NOT MARRIED."  However, I am no longer the target audience, and it's important that today's generation are aware that there was a time when being illegitimate had serious consequences for your future prospects and your ability to make and retain friends.

A good read for age 10+.

No comments:

Post a Comment