The Big Read

No. 49 – Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian read 28/4/14

Now I have rather a personal connection with Michelle Magorian. Not only is she from my home town, she also attended the same drama school that I do and I knew none of this until I opened the front cover and read her biography. This book had sat on my shelf for years and I had never read it. I remember a TV film from my childhood and I knew there was a theme of child abuse *I’m going to put a trigger warning here* and so I had avoided it on the assumption it was going to be really depressing. But when I finally picked it up as part of my challenge I fell in love with it.

Obviously, there is a lot of the part of the world I grew up in the writing of the village Little Weirwold and so this story felt so much closer to home for me. Willie Beech is sent to live with the rather bitter old man Mr Tom as part of the evacuation process of London during the Second World War. Mr Tom doesn’t really want Willie there but he knows he must do his bit so he takes in this painfully timid little boy. Gradually they grow to rely on each other: they bring each other back to life and build a home together. But then Willie has to return to London.

Next thing you know you get your heart broken and you’re on the train back to university trying to stifle the sobs that refuse to go away. That is how painful this story is. The abuse that Willie receives at the hands of his mother is unimaginable, unfathomable. That poor,poor boy. I have never wanted a happy ending for a character more. It is too horrible because it is never certain.

I shan’t give away the ending because I urge you all to read this book right away. No matter how many books are in your TBR pile, no matter if you are half way through 10 unfinished books get a copy of this book and read it. It’s short and easy to read because it’s a children’s book but it will enrich your life so much.

Even away from the story Goodnight Mister Tom is beautifully written. Magorian creates a sanctuary in here writing of the countryside, which made me fall in love again with the place where I live. The character development in this book is spectacular as Willie and Mr Tom’s fondness for each other grows so does the reader’s; both seem distant and cold but the layers are peeled away to reveal people who have been broken by life’s cruel injustices. They both have a place in my heart and this book has a place in my Top 10 favourites.

Rating:5/5

Would recommend to: break your heart and warm your spirits.

 

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