29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
One of 2012's top novels,
This review is from: The Child Who (Hardcover)
As an avid reader of Lelic's work I had been looking forward to his third novel and I wasn't disappointed. The Child Who takes what, in less capable hands, could be a tabloid gore-fest, the murder of a school girl by another child, and offers a complex and insightful portrayal of those involved in the case. By focusing on Leo Curtice, the solicitor tasked with defending the accused child, Lelic does not seek to provide easy answers - that is not his style - instead he forces the reader to question a number of issues surrounding the case from the frailties of the UK justice system, to the lust for public blood-letting in such cases and, more widely, the failure of society as a whole to protect its most vulnerable.
While the subject of the book is without question a difficult one, the flawed humanity of Lelic's characaters from the unfuflfilled Leo, to his conflicted wife and withdrawn teenage daughter make this book an extremely rewarding read. Narrative tension is maintained superbly throughout the novel due to the sparing use of "present day" chapters, which offer the reader tantalising hints of the dramatic impact that the case will have on Curtice and his family. Lelic's prose - always one of his strong points - is by turns searing and poetic, while all the time maintaining the pared down quality that is fast becoming his trademark.
This is less a book about why a child kills another child, and more a deeply moving and utterly affecting examination of the complex moral and societal issues surrounding such an emotive crime. The recent Guardian review was right - this really does deserve to be Lelic's breakthrough book.