As I said, we went there on holiday last summer and it was amazing. This was fourteen months ago: when we still did things as a family. Back before things got a bit crummy at home. Back before Dad started working a Charillion hours a week and Mum started sleeping in.
Martin sneaks out early one morning with the biscuit tin, his life savings and his little brother Charlie. They are going to travel across the country and relive the memories of their family trip to Cornwall. Since their last visit Dad has been working every hour of the day and Mum has been unable to do anything at all. That doesn’t get Charlie down. He has a wicked sense of humour and Martin thinks he is one in a million.
A story of brotherly love in the style of Two Weeks With The Queen and My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece.
An excellent book. The publicity package should have come with tissues, because I sure as heck cried. Think Annabel Pitcher and you won’t be far off – memorable characters dealing with a difficult time in life.
The story alternates between the present moment, in which Martin and Charlie head to Cornwall, and the previous year’s holiday. Memories of their last trip to Cornwall build to an understanding of the present day. There is a huge twist towards the end. I decided to keep this review free of major-spoilers. This decision makes it difficult to share the key themes. All I can say is don’t peek. Don’t flick to the back, don’t scan the end pages. Keep reading and you will find yourself caught up in Charlie and Martin’s adventure.
Charlie is a wonderful character. He was born early and lots of people write him off. He hates school because he has to sit at the ‘thick-kid table’ and battle his way through work he doesn’t understand. Charlie has a creative mind and lots to say. I thought there were some really positive messages about able-ism and not making assumptions about people’s intelligence by one aspect of their ability.
Another positive aspect of this book was the working-class representation. Even in 2018 it is unusual to pick up a book and find it is about a working-class family from the North of England. Even less so to find a book about working-class lives which is not about social issues (eg drug-abuse or gang-crime.) This book was about a lovely family. It didn’t shy away from the fact that Dad had to save for two years to afford a holiday in the UK. It is important for kids to see themselves in their reading material. I’m pleased to see children’s fiction making more effort in terms of representation.
A story of brotherly love and friendship. Distinctive voices and a big heart.
Thanks to Piccadilly Press for my copy. Opinions my own.