Middle Grade Reviews

Review – Stand By Me by Judi Curtin



‘I’ve thought about Jeanie a lot in recent years,’ said Graham. ‘I thought about trying to find her – but the guilt and the shame always held me back … but still – I always hoped that fate would bring us together – I always hoped that one day Jeanie and I would meet again – but … well that’s not going to happen now is it? That ship has sailed without me.’

Beth hugged him. ‘Oh Graham,’ she said. ‘You poor thing. I wish we could do something to help.’ 

He gave a small, sad smile. ‘You listened,’ he said. 


Molly and Beth are back for their second adventure.

Beth’s Great-Uncle Graham is usually the most childlike adult they know. He receives news that his childhood friend Jeanie has died, and suddenly he’s down. It’s not only her death that upsets Graham, but the intervening years. Why did he fail to keep in touch with Jeannie? What happened that summer when they were thirteen? Why has Graham blamed himself all these years?

The girls return to Rico’s, the strange shop which played a part in their first time travel adventure. If they travel back to the 1960s, can they help Uncle Graham? Will they cut it at 1960s school? What the heck is a beehive? A warm adventure which shows that real friendship lasts a lifetime.birdReview:

 A warm and addictive read about the effect the past has on our lives. I love time travel. Time-travel, time-slip, and books where protagonists come to terms with events in their own past. The past makes us.

Molly and Beth live together. I believe there is more about their pasts, and their parents’ relationship in book one, which I will seek out. They are also friends. I love their modern-day family, where Beth’s Uncle is important in Molly’s life. I also like the relationship with Uncle Graham. I’ve been advised that children aren’t interested in adults and their problems, and maybe it is a difficult subject to pull off, but I think children can be curious about the recent past. Family stories are the first place to start.

Jeanie’s story highlights changes in attitude to disability over the past 50 years. This was a great focus. In the 1960s, many people with long-term conditions, sight, hearing and mobility problems were written off by society. This is one reason it is so important for children to think about the recent past. It enables them to see the importance of issues which prevail despite change, and to think about their own attitudes.

Graham’s grief is also a lovely story. Instead of focusing on the immediate shock, Stand By Me shows feelings of guilt and self-blame which people often suffer as part of their grief. Graham’s guilt is about the years in which he failed to contact Jeanie, and his understanding of what happened when they were thirteen. I like that the time travel doesn’t magic Graham’s feelings away. Far more realistically, it gives him some comfort.

I like the style of this story. It’s time-travel, but would be suited to readers of contemporary fiction. There is nothing fantastical about the time-travel. It just enables the girls to see a wider scope of their family’s lives. I hope to read the first novel, and am pleased to see Judi Curtin has a back list. Can’t wait to indulge. a


Huge thanks to Aoife Harrison/O’Brien Press for sending a copy in exchange for honest review.

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