- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1040 KB
- Print Length: 333 pages
- Publisher: Joel Toombs Publishing; 1 edition (7 Dec. 2014)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00QPKCTJO
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #637,209 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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|Print List Price:||£8.99|
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The Running Boy Kindle Edition
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Howie Lambert and his friends, Freddy and Polly, live in the coastal town of Whitby, Yorkshire, with the moors, cliffs and the ruins of St Hilda’s Abbey as their playground. Howie is a quiet boy who likes reading and writing poetry. He’s vulnerable and introspective, which is not helped by his father’s stern and disciplinarian attitude.
‘If granddad used the belt and father turned out this way then maybe belts should be kept for trousers’.
The first real change to Howie’s relatively carefree younger years comes with the threat of war and his brother joining the army. Howie is sixteen in 1914 when Whitby is attacked by German warships and Freddy’s house, along with others in the street, are destroyed. Freddy’s mother is caught in the blast. Freddy fuels his grief with anger against the Germans and determines to enlist in the army, talking Howie into joining with him. Polly, eager to escape her abusive uncle, grabs her chance to leave with the boys. The friends are separated on their way to France and Howie is alone on his journey into the unknown.
The story follows Howie’s journey to France and the unimaginable horrors he finds there. Terrified and longing for home he faces the ordeals of war along with the end of his boyhood. Witnessing the fighting and being ordered to do things no-one should ever have to face, much less a boy, Howie has to grow up quickly. His feelings and thoughts are dealt with sympathetically. The scenes on the battlefields and in the trenches are described in convincing detail, made all the worse because of their truth.
Just when it’s all getting much too overwhelming and Howie is almost at breaking point, his life takes an unexpected turn as he is given an order regarding the cavalry horses which are treated as just more casualties of the war. As he struggles to obey his orders Howie is allowed a glimpse into another world which gives him hope for his future.
Very well written and researched and I like very much how Howie is portrayed. My only niggle was the tone of some of the dialogue which left me unconvinced. I felt it could have had more authenticity and this did pull me out of the story a little. That aside, it’s a really good book for the Young Adult genre, showcasing as it does, a boy’s struggles from adolescence into premature manhood under the direst of circumstances.
It is a hard subject to write about well and has been so well done by others, but Toombs manages to capture something of the futility of the war that I haven’t read elsewhere – he avoids the temptation to make his protagonist a hero or to imbue him with any clichés of bravery. There is no glamorisation involved.
There is a heavy reliance on a form of internal dialogue using speech marks – to convey the protagonists thoughts: ‘Oh no, now what do I do?’ he thought, which is a little dated and intrusive at times – it doesn’t feel quite natural.
Well worth a read though.
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