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The Child Who,
This review is from: The Child Who (Hardcover)
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This novel is about a very emotive issue, that of children who kill. In this case, Daniel Blake, a twelve year old boy who kills an eleven year old girl as she walks to school. The story is told mostly from the point of view of Leonard (Leo) Curtis, a solicitor who defends Daniel, much to the disgust of his wife, Meg. As Leo becomes more involved in Daniel's case, he experiences hate mail and his wife and daughter, Ellie, are also targeted. When Megan is spat at in a supermarket and Ellie attacked at school, she begs him to drop the case, but he is unable, or unwilling, to do so.
The author explores this storyline expertly. Does Daniel, expelled from schools, with an aggressive stepfather, mother who seems depressed to the point of apathy and father in prison, deserve sympathy? Could the warning signs have stopped what happened? As the barrister tells Leo, rather flippantly, "It's never about why. We need to condemn a little more and understand a little less. This is England, not Scandinavia." Yet Leo, personally involved, does feel sympathy with Daniel and feels he has been let down. However, when Leo's own daughter is targeted, Simon Lelic shows how difficult it is to want anything other than revenge.
Overall, this was a well paced and well written novel, with good characters. I did feel Meg over-reacted somewhat to Leo taking the case on. Despite the circumstances, it was a high profile case, but she reacted badly even before it impacted on her, or her daughter, personally. The author really captured Leo's initial nervous excitement at a case which meant something to him, before events spiralled out of control. Also, the jealousy Leo encounters perfectly described office politics, as well as the way other people reacted with either distate or outright hostility to a crime which is very hard to accept, let alone understand. Thankfully, this book is neither sensational or mawkish, but simply leaves you feeling quite sad for everyone concerned.