Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Fitbit

Customer reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
6
3.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
2
4 star
2
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
2
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£8.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 22 April 2001
I found Aidan Chambers by chance, but I am SO glad I did! I first read 'Breaktime' when I was 16 (now 20) and yet I keep coming back to it over and over, it never gets dull. His portrayal of what it is like to be a teenager is so very accurate and incredibly moving. This is the story of literature-loving Ditto and his cynical friend Morgan; and of the summer in which Ditto sets out to prove that literature can be important and life-changing. We are presented with Ditto's summer diary, the amazing journey, both real and metaphorical, that he goes on. In cluding hilarious episodes with some would-be burglars, the moving storyline about his relationship with his father, and his first sexual encounter, described so beautifully...in three different ways!! That's what's so great about Aidan Chambers's writing - he constantly finds new and wonderful ways to say things.
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 December 2008
Ditto and Morgan are two English seventeen-year-old high school students doing their A levels. According to Morgan literature is a load of garbage, useless, a lie, having nothing to do with life. It obeys rules and is ordered in a way that life never does. Ditto sees things very differently. He likes studying English Literature and is inspired by his teacher Midge. But how can he get across to Morgan the enthusiasm he feels for fiction? In an inspired moment Ditto sets out to write his own piece of literature that will answer Morgan's criticisms. So Ditto begins to write an account of the events that happen to him during the half-term holiday break, and this book is the end result of his efforts.

On one level this book is simply a record of an unusually turbulent week in the life of an ordinary person. On another level it is a coming of age story about a young man who leaves his childhood behind and experiences the first expressions of adult sexuality. Psychologically this is the story of a youth's growing separation from his father. Then again this is the story of someone trapped in thoughts and words, the endless commentary of the mind. There is a lot in this book to think about and it strikes me that this is just what life is like: complex, with no easy answers or pat resolutions.

This book is also complex stylistically. Following the example of modernists like James Joyce and T.S. Elliott Ditto sets out to stretch and break the 'rules' of literature. Sometimes the text is written in the third-person; sometimes it is in first-person. Sometimes the narrative contains considerable description and comment, and sometimes there is no narration at all, but just named report of dialogue as in the text of a play. Sometimes the commentary comes almost as scientific observation listed under italicized headings. Ditto writes:

"Nature of bus experience: consoling, comforting, contenting. Vehicle warm. Motion tranquillizing. ...[etc.]"

Sometimes quotes from other texts are given, such as from travel guides, relevant pieces of fiction and poetry. Sometimes illustrations are used rather than just words. Sometimes parallel thoughts and commentary is given in alternate lines down the page. This is a very adventurously written 'novel' and always we are faced with the question: "Where is the truth in all of this?" This modernist writing style is a little hard to get used to and understand at first, especially the very long sentences representing the 'stream of consciousness', the gabble of Ditto's mind. But with a little perseverance this is a very enjoyable book.

This is a quit short novel and when I came to the end I wished there was more of it. Chambers manages to make us like and care about Ditto, and want to know more about him. He has created a well-humored book that surprises us and entertains us, but which also makes us think. This book would do excellently for a high school paper: it contains so much in so few pages.

This is the first in the "Dance Sequence", a set of stand-alone novels, which inter-relate thematically, but which are unconnected in story line and characters.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 December 2008
Breaktime: is fiction useless?

Ditto and Morgan are two English seventeen-year-old high school students doing their A levels. According to Morgan literature is a load of garbage, useless, a lie, having nothing to do with life. It obeys rules and is ordered in a way that life never does. Ditto sees things very differently. He likes studying English Literature and is inspired by his teacher Midge. But how can he get across to Morgan the enthusiasm he feels for fiction? In an inspired moment Ditto sets out to write his own piece of literature that will answer Morgan's criticisms. So Ditto begins to write an account of the events that happen to him during the half-term holiday break, and this book is the end result of his efforts.

On one level this book is simply a record of an unusually turbulent week in the life of an ordinary person. On another level it is a coming of age story about a young man who leaves his childhood behind and experiences the first expressions of adult sexuality. Psychologically this is the story of a youth's growing separation from his father. Then again this is the story of someone trapped in thoughts and words, the endless commentary of the mind. There is a lot in this book to think about and it strikes me that this is just what life is like: complex, with no easy answers or pat resolutions.

This book is also complex stylistically. Following the example of modernists like James Joyce and T.S. Elliott Ditto sets out to stretch and break the 'rules' of literature. Sometimes the text is written in the third-person; sometimes it is in first-person. Sometimes the narrative contains considerable description and comment, and sometimes there is no narration at all, but just named report of dialogue as in the text of a play. Sometimes the commentary comes almost as scientific observation listed under italicized headings. Ditto writes:

"Nature of bus experience: consoling, comforting, contenting. Vehicle warm. Motion tranquillizing. ...[etc.]"

Sometimes quotes from other texts are given, such as from travel guides, relevant pieces of fiction and poetry. Sometimes illustrations are used rather than just words. Sometimes parallel thoughts and commentary is given in alternate lines down the page. This is a very adventurously written 'novel' and always we are faced with the question: "Where is the truth in all of this?" This modernist writing style is a little hard to get used to and understand at first, especially the very long sentences representing the 'stream of consciousness', the gabble of Ditto's mind. But with a little perseverance this is a very enjoyable book.

This is a quit short novel and when I came to the end I wished there was more of it. Chambers manages to make us like and care about Ditto, and want to know more about him. He has created a well-humored book that surprises us and entertains us, but which also makes us think. This book would do excellently for a high school paper: it contains so much in so few pages.

This is the first in the "Dance Sequence", a set of stand-alone novels, which inter-relate thematically, but which are unconnected in story line and characters.

Dance On My Grave: adult love and grief

Hal Robinson is sixteen, has just finished his school exams and has no idea what he wants to do with his life. Will he stay on at school? If so what will he study? Or will he get a job like his father wants? Hal lives at Southend, the part of London where the Thames River meets the sea. One day he 'borrows' a friend's sail-boat without asking permission. A storm blows up and soon Hal capsizes the boat. Then into his life sails Barry Gorman, eighteen year old, expert sailor, who rescues Hal and who it seems will soon sort Hal's life out. Soon Hal finds himself falling deeply in love with Barry, and it seems his every fantasy is about to be fulfilled. But, as Hal reveals at the very beginning of the book, Barry's life is destined to be cut short.

This book is written in a quirky, interesting, experimental manner. The text consists of Hal's first person account, six "running reports" by Hal's social worker, two newspaper clippings, and a school essay. The personal account features "action replays" in which Hal goes over the scene he has just described filling in the psychological details that could not be included in the flow of action. One important theme to arise is the 'postmodern' question of how much a written account mirrors reality? Hal desperately wants to be honest, but no matter how much he tries his words fail to describe the true 'feeling' of events, or can be interpreted in a way that varies from the 'truth'.

While being an account of a death the book is often surprisingly funny. I found myself laughing out loud in several parts. Grief, however, inevitably takes the main stage at the end of the story, and is represented in some considerable depth. This is not really a tear-jerker though, as throughout the book we have always known that Barry will die.

Of course the book is also a description of first adult love, in all its depth and pain. As the story progresses Hal moves from confused teenager to wounded but wiser adult. While this could be described as a 'gay' story the book can be also enjoyed by 'straight' adolescent readers: love, death and truth are in fact universal themes no matter in what details we dress them. The story includes some sex but it is only very discretely referred to.

This is an English novel and some colloquialisms and cultural references are included which US audiences may find difficult to understand. There is not enough of this though to make the book inaccessible: in fact most of the text should be crystal clear.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 December 2012
Whether straight (Breaktime) or gay ( Dance on My Grave) Chambers writes with understanding and sensitivity of the mess of emotional and sexual awakening of young people. While there is no blatant description of sex acts the books are inherently sexual but they also explore the complicated relationships between young adults and their parents and sometimes the parents of their friends. They are worth reading if you are the target audience or involved with young people. 'Postcards From No-Mansl Land' by the same author is also very good.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 October 2015
Didn't finish it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 December 2014
I didn't read it
11 Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse