May We Be Forgiven, by A. M. Homes

‘Flippant’ is a word forever associated in my mind with The Great Gatsby. As our year 7 substitute teacher valiantly catalogued the virtues of The Great Gatsby, she used the word ‘flippant’ one too many times.  It was a small error, but one that we couldn’t forgive; it alienated the class from her and us from the book.

Flippant is the first word that also comes to mind with May We Be Forgiven. Although, that’s where the associations with Gatsby come to an end.  The Scott Fitzgerald novel conveys big themes of class, mortality, isolation etcetera etcetera whereas May We Be Forgiven does none of this and ultimately for me, boils down lots of snide banter.

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

I’m certainly not the first to acknowledge this, but Sarah Waters is a genius.  Her writing style is beautiful and her every book is compelling.  It’s a unique skill to combine classic prose with such a strong storyline.  The Little Stranger is a can’t-put-it-down-page-turner, but unlike many other page-turners, you aren’t left feeling cheated and slightly dirty afterwards because Waters’ writing is as satisfying as the tale.

The Little Stranger weaves an observation on social class into a modern-era gothic novel. It is set in rural post-war England where across the country aristocratic families’ fortunes are in decline.

The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton

Review by Charlie, aged 5

I like this book because there’s different people in it, like Moonface, old Saucepan Man and Silky. The things that Saucepan Man says are too funny. And also, old Dame Washalot always washes.

I like the lands at the top of the tree. My favourite land was the Land of Presents.

It is a fat book [we have a three in one compendium].

I like to read this every night before I go to sleep.

This is where I am, By Karen Campbell

This is Where I am is a narrative woven together from the differing perspectives of two central characters – Abdi an asylum seeker who has fled Somalia with his daughter, and Deborah, a woman who has withdrawn from her world after the death of her husband. The story centres around their journeys, both emotional and literal, to reconcile their past with their present.

Gradually we learn both of these character’s back stories and their own tragedies. Abdi fled Somalia and then a Kenyan refugee camp to seek asylum in Glasgow, but in the mayhem of his exodus his wife was left behind. Deborah spent much of her time caring for her husband, who eventually died of a muscle-wasting disease: at the point we meet her she is afraid to rebuild her life.