Saturday, March 26, 2011
Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff
Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff that after only two chapters I just had to skip straight to the end. In one way this was a comfort but in another way I think it might have slightly spoilt the suspense as Sam struggles to make sense of his own identity through fragmented memories of the past.
Sam is about to turn eleven and he is taking every opportunity to find is hidden birthday presents. Sam lives with his grandfather Mack who owns a woodworking shop, Onji who runs a deli and Anima the owner of an Indian Restaurant. Home for Sam is above these shops and at the top of his home is an attic. The story opens with Sam stealthily climbing up to the attic using pipes outside the building that he has reached from his bedroom window. He is looking for his Birthday present.
Up in the attic Sam finds an old, locked, metal box with a “newspaper clipping sticking out of the edge … He crouched down: large black letters on top, a picture of a boy underneath. The bubbly sweater with the zipper down the front looked familiar. He caught his breath. He was the boy, but so much younger.”
This clipping puts Sam into a spin. Perhaps Mack is not really his grandfather, has be been kidnapped? There are answers but to find them Sam needs to be able to read. Knowing this he enlists the help of a new girl in his class called Caroline. Caroline is reluctant to make friends because she keeps changing schools and right from the start she tells Sam she is not here to stay but somehow these two muddle through and the strongest bonds are friendship are formed.
Eleven is a slim novel with a very powerful and emotional story. If you enjoyed 35 Kilos of Hope look for Eleven in your library. The cover makes this book look like a thriller but really it is more about friendship and family mysteries. You might also like to look for other books by this talented writer.