Ever since I read The Exiles I’ve been a fan of Hilary McKay. She’s such a good writer, so funny, heartwarming, refreshingly honest, and British. This is a kids’ book, but I assumed too old for my kids and thus I’d read it on my own. (Besides, we’ve recently discovered her younger chapter book series about Lulu and that’s just right for read alouds.)
I love the structure of this that makes you a little uncertain what’s going on. Occasional italic chapters showing scenes of Binny and Gareth in a dangerous ocean predicament. Is it a dream? Is this going to be a sad book where her friend dies? Heroic? Who knows what. Binny is 11 or 12 and when she was 8 her dad died. If she’s honest though, she’ll tell you that what was really horrible about that year was that her beloved dog, Max, whom she’d had for less than a year, was taken away from her. Due to the declining circumstances of the family after the dad died they’ve had to move around, stay in small apartments, and have the dog stay with the grandma. But he’s too wild for her and the nasty aunt whisked him away. Thus breaking Binny’s heart and cementing her hatred for her aunt. Binny wishes she’d die. And she does. Which is horrifying for her. The aunt has left her small seaside cottage to Binny’s family and it is there that they rebuild their lives. I just loved the characters and their quirks, the warm family, and the whole thing. It’s hard for me to describe what it is I like so much about her style, it’s just the language she uses and maybe how upfront McKay is about people being horrid.
Anyway, I loved this!