I was deeply moved by this novel. Not since A Monster Calls have I cried in public when reading. There are no 2D characters here. The light touches and the beautiful and sensitive character descriptions add real depth to the narrative.
Lenny’s Book of Everything follows the life of Lenny, her mother and her younger brother, Davey, who has a rare form of gigantism. Lenny is fiercely protective of her hardworking but downtrodden mother. Her relationship to Davey is more complex. ‘What if I said I was ashamed of him sometimes? […] I was a monster for thinking such things’. Quietly Lenny also yearns for her absent father until one day ‘Peter Lenard Spink I whispered, but I didn’t long for him anymore. He was too light to pin down, too broken to mend’.
Threaded throughout the story is the arrival of the encyclopedia supplements, which the family has won as a prize. As the A to Z sections arrive, the siblings read them aloud, which provides an important link to time passing. It is a fragile life shown through the alphabet. There is a definite thirst for knowledge despite every adversity thrown at the family: serious illness, poverty and separation.
I would recommend this text to confident readers from Year 6 upwards. There is nothing inappropriate in the story, but a certain level of maturity is needed to appreciate the relationships fully. This is definitely a novel to place in the hands of readers who enjoyed A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.
Any reader will become immersed in this story. An extraordinary read.
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