I’m back in the school library this week, after a week of working from home and reading lots of amazing children’s books while the library was used as a prayer space for the children. I can’t wait to share my holiday discoveries with the children, starting with The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay (last week’s Longer Read of the Week) and The Day I was Erased this week! Written by Lisa Thompson, it’s guaranteed to be page-turning, emotional and addictive.
What it’s about:
Maxwell is 11 years old and full of anger and mischief. Life at home isn’t a bed of roses – he has a loving family but his parents are so caught up in arguing all the time (and sticking yellow post-it notes to their food in the fridge) that they are oblivious to the effect on Maxwell and his older sister Bex. Maxwell’s main source of comfort comes from his smelly, loving dog Monster, who loves him no matter what he does. And Maxwell does some pretty awful things at school, culminating in actions that make Maxwell wish that he’d never been born. How was he to know that his wish would soon be granted?
I’m in awe of Lisa Thompson’s ability to write so sensitively and brilliantly from a young boy’s perspective. In this book, Maxwell is different to his predecessors (who were more shy and vulnerable – on the surface) but we soon discover that Maxwell’s terrible choices and behaviour mask a boy who is really hurting inside. Struggling to cope in a family situation that is tense, he acts out at school, pushing even his closest friends away. I couldn’t help but cringe when Maxwell does the unthinkable (I won’t give any spoilers!) and wanted to shout ‘Why?’ at him. This is Lisa’s talent – it’s hard not to get emotionally involved in her stories and with her characters.
It’s an interesting concept to look at how life might be if you never existed and the experience helps Maxwell see that, as well as his naughty side, he has good qualities that do make a difference to people’s lives. He realises that, without him, some of those he knows would have less rich, happy lives. He can do good things, and often does, when he’s not acting self-destructively, such as providing his elderly, forgetful neighbour with much-appreciated company and saving Monster, who was injured and abandoned when Maxwell first found him.
This book is excellent reading for anyone but I can really imagine it helping any child who might have chosen the wrong path and desperately wants to make amends but doesn’t know how. It shows that we ALL have good and bad points and that we can make amends when we mess up. Maxwell’s future at the end of the book isn’t a complete happy ending but it’s happy enough to reassure any reader that life carries on and that everyone can make a difference.
The Day I Was Erased, by Lisa Thompson, published by Scholastic.
Read my review of The Light Jar here: https://childtasticbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/review-the-light-jar-by-lisa-thompson/