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4.8 out of 5 stars26
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2011
This book made me sit up right from the start. Lenny Gillespie tells the story - a nine year old who loses her little sister Mavis (who she is supposed to be looking after) just as the bombs start to fall at the beginning of the Clydeside Blitz. The blitz on Clydeside, which began on March 13th 1941, is not as widely known about as it should be - it was the most terrible concentrated bombing of the Second World War. Clydeside was flattenned - and why more deaths were not recorded is a mystery to many. Lenny doesn't take shelter - she is desperately seeking Mavis as the terrible bombs fall around her. The bombers came again, the next night - and still Mavis is not to be found - nor is Lenny's mother. It is an agonising tale - a young girl wrestling with what is going on around her - 'nothing makes sense'- everything is 'upside down and the wrong way up'. The grown-ups who enter the story are carefully crafted - and then there is little Rosie - curiously like Mavis it seems - who attaches herself to Lenny - and all the while Lenny carries a shoe which she has found during her search - she thinks it might be her wee sister's shoe - Mavis's Shoe. Close your eyes and you are right there on the Kilbowie Road - and later, in Carbeth. It is a work of fiction - but the author has done her homework which really brings Lenny's story to life. This is the best book I have read in a long time. Why has more not been written about and around The Clydeside Blitz ? I close the book wanting to know more about what actually happenned on these terrible nights in March 1941.
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on 3 March 2011
I really enjoyed this book - a page turner from the very beginning. Lenny takes us on a journey which gives us insight into how the war was seen in glasgow through a child's eyes. Lenny's voice paints vivid pictures and real emotions that we can all relate to. Glasgow residents will see their home city in a completely different light, and most probably find out facts about the city's history that they never knew. The tale of Lenny's journey is incredibly moving - though often very sad - the author has clearly researched real events in detail, and I was thankful that the more negative aspects of the war were not sugarcoated. Great read.
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on 3 March 2011
I was gripped by this book from the start. I don't want to give away the ending but the book delivers a punch throughout. The Clydebank Blitz is not a well-known story or fact, and people in London certainly do not know about the amount of destruction and death. We always hear about London, and Coventry (not meaning to take away from the death and destruction there) but Clydebank suffered terribly, and you can still see today the aftermath of the bombing.

More importantly perhaps though, this book is very current in its anti-war message. It makes you realise how important it is for young people and adults to read and appreciate the effects of war.

I think this book is important, moving and well researched, and should be read by everyone.
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on 8 March 2011
I heard about this on Insight Radio last week - a station I listen to regularly to because of the Talking Books - they interviewed the author Sue Reid Sexton - and it sounded fascinating with the Clydebank Blitz anniversary this month.
( I am not sight impaired but Insight's coverage of books is excellent.) I recommend this book - I thought it a really moving story - fiction based on the facts of these terrible nights of 13 and 14 of March 1941. It says on the back - 'an urgent, compelling story of trauma and a desperate search for survivors' which is exactly what it is.
I think this is a really good book to read and share and talk about. Not just an adult read - younger readers would really get something out of this - I guess early teens ? And I saw in the papers at the weekend that it has the thumbs-up from some of the survivors who have read it. A good book group choice I would say.
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on 24 March 2011
There were a couple of times at the beginning of this book where I wasn't sure if using the first person was going to sit comfortably with me. However, before I knew it I was totally engrossed and by the end I loved all the characters, but especially Lenny.
This can't have been an easy book to write: getting across Lenny's experience and subsequent trauma, in a way which didn't shy away from the horrific reality of the blitz, whilst maintaining the level of restraint necessary when writing for young people. In my opinion it takes a very skilled writer to achieve this balance. It is so easy to slip into overly graphic descriptions, or, patronise teenage readers. I thought there was great subtly in the writing which, for me, made the story all the more moving.
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on 22 April 2011
A thoroughly engrossing read and a convincing evocation not just of the Clydebank Blitz but of adult mores of the era, as seen through the eyes of a child. Lenny survives the bombing but finds herself lost and alone, disorientated, traumatised, unable to find her mother or younger sister, Mavis, whose shoe she finds in the rubble. Clutching the battered shoe as a talisman, she is determined to find her sister, for whose disappearance she feels responsible. The author captures beautifully this young voice, which is simultaneously childlike yet disarmingly wise. Lenny always knows when she has to tiptoe around adult sensibilities, reminding us that children are more insightful and take in much more than we give them credit for. Highly recommended.
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on 8 May 2011
This novel is told from the point of view of a ten-year-old child caught up in the Clydebank Blitz and separated from her mother and sister in the chaos. I found it totally compelling for the honesty of her reactions as she works out what is going on, who to trust and how to survive. She is a fully rounded, complex, tough little creature and everything rings true about her thoughts and actions. The portrayal of her shock and post-traumatic stress is all the more moving because we are allowed to witness it rather than being told about it by an adult or an external narrator. A great piece of writing.
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on 24 November 2011
An interesting idea to view the aftermath of extensive bombing raid through the eyes of a child. I think I expected more to do with Clydebank itself, but perhaps the reality was that just about everyone was pushed out of the town very quickly. Captures the way innocents can in some ways cope with horrors better than the more sophisticated can. The approach of the hospital staff was of great interest - a very tightly focussed view.
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on 10 August 2012
This is the story of a young girl's experiences during the Clydebank Blitz and its aftermath.
I was a similar-aged boy, and I remember watching Clydebank in flames, though from a safe
distance away. Sue Reid Sexton very convincingly brings that time, and its atmosphere,
back again. The narrative also gives glimpses of the adults life
of the period, though from a child's perspective. I recall my puzzlement when I discovered
that my teacher also had a first name ... Elsie ... and presumably also a life outwith the school,
though what it consisted of I neither knew nor was greatly interested in. There were trees
to climb and burns to dam, and after a raid sometimes shrapnel to be found in the street.
What it was all about was never quite clear, except that it was somehow the Germans' fault.

Highly to be recommended for both adults and older children.Mavis's Shoe
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on 20 December 2011
This is a lovely, compelling book that I could not put down. Sue Reid Sexton takes us into a nightmare of lost loved ones and all the uncertainty that surrounds it. Written through a child's eyes it took me back to my own childhood and feelings we all probably had as children, though most of us were fortunate never to have lived through such traumatic events. She makes us think about aspects and consequences of the blitz that most of us have probably never thought of.
The characters are well drawn and very real: and what shines through is the general goodness of people and their willingness to pull together in a crisis. It is touching without being sentimental, and in Mr Tait she has created a role model for me. He is the nearest thing to Harper Lee's Atticus Finch that you will find in a contemporary book, full of qualities that I aspire to.
I recommend it to everyone - the best book I have read for ages.
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