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Lark by Anthony McGowan - Review

Saturday, March 28, 2020

At the end of February I saw tweets about the Carnegie longlist, and thought I should definitely get to reading some of those books. The longlist seemed incredibly strong this year, and I was eager to get to a few in particular. I keep a bullet journal/catch all journal hybrid, so I wrote the list down in there, and then used my local library website to see which of the books was available for me to request. About six or seven were, so I requested three and then picked them up at the library in the middle of March. I've scheduled this post for the end of March, but as I type the government is advising to stay at home if you can because of Covid-19, and I hope that many libraries will shut down to help stop the spread of the virus, although I'm sure this needs to be a government directive unlike currently. All this to say, I didn't go to the library recently but I do believe passionately in supporting your local ones when it is possible.

Anyway Lark by Anthony McGowan was one of the books I requested. It's a Barrington Stoke book, meaning it's quite short, and printed on thick paper and with a font intended to be reader friendly. I really like Barrington Stoke books and have read quite a few. They're fun little stories, always brilliantly done by the author. This book is the third in a series about the same two main characters, apparently, but it works perfectly well as a standalone story. There's definitely enough background for the reader to understand where the characters come from.

The book is about brothers Nicky and Kenny, who are youngish teenagers in the book. Kenny is older, but has some kind of learning disability and goes to a special school, so Nicky is the one to look after the two of them most of the time. I think they're about 13/14. They live with their dad and his girlfriend Jenny, and have done ever since their mum left when they were about four/five. Their dad had an alcohol problem to which is written about, but not in much depth (I assume there's more about it in the previous books).

Nicky and Kenny are about to see their mum for the first time in years and are understandably anxious about it. Their dad suggests that they go for a walk somewhere on the Yorkshire moors one day while he's at work. They live closeish to Leeds so have to get on three buses first, and then they set off along a public footpath.

However, it starts to snow, and darkness is setting in, and neither boy is really dressed for cold weather. Nicky has the idea to go over the hill instead of around it, and then something terrible happens, and the boys have to work together to get back.

I loved the book, I thought it was a really good story. I liked Nicky and how much he looked after his brother. I loved the northern setting (still so sorely needed!) and the story is really complete. I utterly recommend the book! I'm giving it four out of five.

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