Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
on 29 June 2017
I'd heard about this book and the related film, but never had the inclination to seek out either. I was wrong. When this came up as a book for my y5 class book club, my able readers went home with a copy to read, and that rainy Saturday I reluctantly settled down in Costa with a coffee and a pack of post-it notes. By the third or fourth chapter I forgot I was supposed to be working. I was so absorbed in the book that I read it in one sitting, and emerged a while later completely blown away. My partner asked to have a look, and became just as gripped. My group of 7 kids were as impressed as I was, and one boy even read it twice.
The book is superbly written, with such well-rounded characters that you feel as if you know them as friends. There are many twists along the way, and the two stories that are told simultaneously are beautifully intertwined. The coincidences are a stretch, but it's easy to let that slide, because they are also sheer joy. Louis Sachar knows people, and human relationships are his speciality. The main characters are underdogs with the potential to be great, and as the reader you are urging them forward.
From a teacher point of view, we had a wonderful session that touched on: racism and bullying; the power and potential we may not know we have; the interweaving of two stories that seem very different at first; the naivety of the main character and how he changes through the book; the use of nicknames at the camp, particularly that of Zero. The list was endless, and the kids wanted to talk and talk.