Friday, August 28, 2009
Twelve-year-old Gwenni Morgan bears witness as her family crumbles under the weight of its secrets in Strachan's lyrical debut. In a small Welsh village swirling with secrets and gossip, few are willing to tell the truth about who they are. Gwenni soars above the local intrigue in her dreams-each night as she drifts off to sleep she flies away from her family and over the nearby fields and farms-and hopes someday to fly during the day as well. Though most, including her mother, see Gwenni's unending curiosity as a nuisance, local schoolteacher Elin Evans nurtures Gwenni's dreams of a different life. When Elin's husband, Ifan, disappears, town tongues wag, and when his body is found, Gwenni's mother mourns him more than seems proper. Strachan ramps up the tension, as Gwenni is caught between loyalties and learns some damning family secrets. The author's light touch keeps the story unfamiliar and surprising, while Gwenni's über-precocious narration revels in a love for language and reveals an unspoiled innocence about the world. It's small, quiet and nicely done.
I adored Gwenni. She is so precocious, and imaginative, despite her bitch of a mother. Sorry, but it’s true. Mrs. Morgan is all about Mrs. Morgan. And she clearly plays favorites…Gwenni’s older sister Bethan can do no wrong, and Gwenni can do no right. However, Gwenni doesn’t let that get her down. I especially like how she is always imagining the Toby jugs on the shelf as little people looking down on her family.
Gwenni fancies herself a detective, and after the death of Ifan Evans, she is determined to find out who killed him. Gwenni’s efforts often embarrass her mother, who is all about appearances. Eventually, Gwenni abandons her search after family secrets emerge…both for the Evans family and the Morgans.
Chris at book-a-rama wrote a knock-out review of this one. And I’ll just leave you with her review, since if I keep typing I’ll probably just end up repeating what she said. And that wouldn’t be very cool.