Reviews /

The View from the Very Best House in Town

Authored by Meera Trehan
Published by Walker Books

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In The View from the Very Best House in Town, we explore the complex relationships of the main characters as they navigate childhood friendships, peer pressure and unspoken prejudices. Told from three different perspectives, we grow to understand Sam, Asha and the secrets held within the walls of Donnybrooke, the mansion on the hill.

Sam and Asha’s friendship is built on solid foundations. They understand each other and have a strong connection, not least because of their diagnosis of autism. The two friends are inseparable until Sam is accepted into the prestigious Castleton Academy, an elite school known for its planetarium and excellent academic performance. Sam soon befriends Prestyn (Asha’s arch enemy) whose family own Donnybrooke, but is she as genuine a friend as she seems? As the year unfolds, Asha is left questioning her friendship with Sam, cruelly nicknamed ‘Miracle Boy’ by his peers, as he becomes increasingly distant and we are left wondering if they can ever rebuild their relationship.

In this book, we observe how friendships grow and crumble, explore prejudices and bullying and learn more about loneliness and isolation through the eyes of the main characters. In an unusual twist, the reader also has an insight into the thoughts of Donnybrooke, the mansion that sits on the hill – an observer of the events as they happen! As we delve deeper into the text, the parallels between relationships become evident and values are questioned as Sam and Asha make sense of the world around them.

This book is unique and insightful in its exploration of characters with autism and we experience the world as seen through the eyes of Sam and Asha. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive to learn that the mansion, Donnybrooke, was a key narrator in this book, but it works! Look carefully and the symbolism is evident throughout – the damage caused by Prestyn’s friends to the house mirrors the damage caused to friendships as the bond between Sam and Asha starts to crumble.

How does a house become a home? What makes a person a friend? How do families grow and learn? These are key questions explored within the book which would resonate with children, particularly in KS2, as they themselves discover where they fit within wider society. A perfect class read with opportunities to debate and discuss classism, friendship, loyalty, tolerance, inclusion and acceptance. Every class teacher should read a copy!