Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Raven Summer by David Almond

I am the first to admit that I am not a fan of Almond's writing. His book Skeling was just creepy- although I know many of my friends who have similar reading tastes enjoy his books. The plot of this one intrigued me (growing up, child soldiers, foster care) so I figured I would give it a try.

One of the things that disturbs me about Almond's writing is that the childhood he writes about is always very dark and this book is no exception. He has a very bleak view of childhood and I find that I can't relate to the dark side of childhood, it isn't what I experienced at all and I really wonder if other kids can relate to his writing.
Raven Summer starts off very light, Liam is a boy who is verging on the edge of adulthood, but is still holding onto his boyhood traditions of playing war and make believe even while his friends are becoming interested in music, girls and other grown up things.
When Liam and his friend Max are out playing one day, they find an abandoned baby in a field. Knowing it is the right thing to do, they take the baby to Liam's home where his parents quickly take over, calling in all the proper agencies. The baby is soon taken to a foster home in the city. When Liam goes to visit the baby, he meets with two other kids his age who are in the foster system as well. Oliver, who is looking for refuge status and Crystal, a girl with many problems of her own. The bond between these three is strong and they become friends and visit whenever they can.
In between visits, Liam and Max are growing apart. Max is growing up, and Liam is content to stay the course. Then there is their childhood friend Nattrass who is very focused on the many acts of violence in the world. When the friends meet up with Nattrass one night, they all start to question who they are and what kind of person they want to be.
As I am writing this, I am realizing all the different issues that are brought up in this story, but aren't fully developed.
One other note; the book is set in England and there are a few spots where the 'Englishness' comes through. Younger readers may need some guidance in these spots.
Once again, I find myself not really enjoying David Almond's writing. I would love to hear what others think about his writing.

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