Book Binge – Finding Violet Park

book bingeWhen I read the synopsis for Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine I was reminded of a real life story, a tale of an urn of ashes that spent nine years sitting on a shelf in a London Underground lost property office before some serious detective work found the family of the person in question.

I was expecting something similar here, but this story is so much more than that. The book is narrated by 16 year old Lucas Swain, who finds Violet Park, or rather her earthly remains, in an urn on a shelf in a mini-cab office. Lucas sets out to ‘rescue’ the old lady and then find out who she was. In the process he also confronts what has happened to his own father, who disappeared several years previously and is presumed to be dead.

Lucas is a modern hero, his investigations don’t involve derring-do, he is a 21st century kid: he talks to people, asks questions and looks things up on the Internet. I’m not going to say any more about the story, to do so would be a real spoiler for anyone who decides to read the book – which is highly recommended.

This is one of those books that you can get totally lost in, the characters are real and funny and vibrant, the writing is clever and the plot rattles along. This might just be the one that gets my vote for the Sheffield Children’s Book Award*. When I think back to my younger self, the one who read Nancy Drew and Lone Pine books under the bedcovers by torchlight, long after she was supposed to have gone to sleep, I think that she would have loved this. This is a great book – enjoyable for adults, absolutely brilliant for kids.

Links – updated 7th June 2008
Valentina has posted a brilliant review of this book.

* This page is currently somewhat out of date. The shortlist of books that we’re reading for the 2008 award is here.

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