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Lezlie, Chobham Academy Book Group

Beck

I really wanted to like this book. The cover was fantastic and invited me to read it and I was drawn in by the second sentence “She was not a prostitute but in times of need, short of other forms of employment, she would sell herself to men”

But that was about as far as it goes for my enthusiasm. I’m not completely sure what I didn’t like – probably too little of too much. The story line was good, making for great potential but I felt that it touched on too many things superficially and didn’t really develop any area sufficiently. Beck, the main character, is sent to an orphanage when his mother dies, is raped by one of the priests (the entire brotherhood at the orphanage seem to have paedophilic inclinations), shipped to Canada to work on a farm but is mistreated because he is black, runs away and lives rough before being caught asleep in the back of a bootlegger’s truck, almost dies of hypothermia but is “adopted” by the bootleggers who provide him with a sense of being loved for the first time since his mother died, escapes from a gun battle with a faction of an Al Capone gang, is robbed of all his money and ends up on a farm in the US where the wealthy, educated, single but much older female owner befriends him, teaches him to ride horse, drive a truck then seduces him, so he runs away again but then returns to live happily ever after. All this and it is only 250+ pages long… !

Most characters were only briefly described and I never felt that I got to know them or could empathise with them. There are descriptions but none really stand out. The exception may be the awful priest with his rabbit-yellow teeth. My overall impression was that this should have been a much longer novel to fully develop the themes and characters. It felt that it was the outline rather than a fully finished work - perhaps because it was completed after the first author’s death?

It is an easy read probably aimed at older reluctant teenage readers – so perhaps I missed the point and it is meant to encourage them by switching from situation to situation quickly. But it is not a book I would recommend.

Posted on: 21st April 2017 at 09:55 am

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