It’s my turn on The God of all Small Boys blog tour today and I loved this book. From start to finish it was really well written and captured my attention. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the fact my Mum insisted reading it with me and made us stop three chapters before the end because it was late!
The book is set in Lochee in Dundee and the descriptions really set the scene, you can imagine what it would have been like to live in the shadow of Camperdown Works and smell the jute from the factory.
The God of all Small Boys is written from the perspective of James an 11 year old boy whose Dad has gone to fight in the War and whose life has been shook up when he has been sent to stay with his Aunt and her family who he doesn’t even know. You can really imagine James’ fear and sadness. He goes from his large comfortable home in the countryside to his Aunt’s home in a tenement block where there is no space and no privacy and he has to share a bed with three of his cousins…one of which hates him.
You feel really sorry for James to start with, he is very sensitive and seems quiet. I can’t imagine how he must feel waving his Dad off to war not knowing when he will come back. His cousin, Billy, resents him being there and starts all his friends off to be mean James, they play some horrible tricks on James. However, it soon becomes clear James is braver than he appears when he stands up to the school bully to help protect Ben, one of Billy’s gang. Billy and his friends Derek, Kevin and Ben start to warm to James and he is soon accepted in as one of their blood brothers.
They go on adventures and create an amazing den, the friendships grow and grow but the thought of the war is never far away. By this time in 1917 the war had been going on a long time and the children had come to realise it wasn’t just about being heroes- the fear of the ‘Man in black’ -the telegram man coming by is never far away, the woman discuss rationing while the younger girls apply to be Land Girls and the boys play at being soldiers while worrying about their Fathers.
Kevin, one of the other boys from their gang, often refers to The God of All Small Boys who he explains is the God who ‘keeps us from breaking our necks on scaffolding…let’s us find pennies in the gutter. He’s the one who grows trees with branches in just the right places, so we can climb to the top….He looks after us…he’s the one who keeps us safe.’ The other boys sort of laugh at Kevin’s God of all Small Boys but they also believe in Him in their own way to. However, when something awful happens they find it hard to make sense of things. I don’t want to give away too much of the story but you should definitely read this book.
I really like the cover too- on the face of it it’s showing boys having fun in the sunset but then you look closer and it reminds you once again of the war and of young men going off to fight as it looks like the artwork of silhouettes of soldiers on a battlefield at the same time.
The God of all Small Boys features so many different issues- war, bullying, friendship, love, poverty and many more- you don’t even realise some of them until you have finished reading and think back. It’s one of those books that gets you thinking for a long time afterwards. Although it’s a children’s book it is brilliantly written and any book that can make my Mum cry should be read by grown ups too.
Don’t forget to head over to www.lisareadsbooks.blogspot.com tomorrow for the next stop on the blog tour.
Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The God of all Small Boys for review purposes but all thoughts are my own.