Moving on....book review time:
- Closed Doors by Lisa O'Donnell
Michael, age 11, likes to listen at doors, eavesdropping on his Mom, Dad, and Grandma when they talk about adult things. He also likes soccer and is a bit uncertain about girls. One night, his beloved mother comes home one night, badly beaten. Listening at doors tells him it was more than a fall and he is asked to keep the story that he's told, a simplified version of the truth told, a secret. He's good at secrets. Things continue to grow complicated as the town eyes his father as the culprit behind his mother' beaten face and his mother struggles to move beyond the truth of her rape. Grown-up difficulties and secrets too big to understand accompany the more traditional confusion of being a pre-adolescent in a small Scottish community.
I'll give this a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Michael is an endearing narrator, honest in his telling of the facts as he sees them, but definitely showing a growing boy's bias in his characterization of those around him. While I got a bit tired of some topics (his obsession with "keepie-uppies," his soccer ball trick, and a potential children's talent show), I suppose the issues he dwells on make him a pretty realistic pre-teen. The novel deals with very difficult topics and shows an appropriately complex journey for both the mother and the other family members in the wake of the rape. The community's reaction to the unfolding story also felt both real and, at times, upsetting. In a different vein, I also liked the portrayal of Michael's utter confusion and uncertainty when it comes to girls.
(Here's a link to my review of O'Donnell's prior novel, The Death of Bees. Both were provided to me in the form of advance reader's copies by the publisher.)