Liam and his friend Max are playing in their neighborhood when the call of a bird leads them out into a field beyond their town. There, they find a baby lying alone atop a pile of stones—with a note pinned to her clothing. Mystified, Liam brings the baby home to his parents. They agree to take her in, but police searches turn up no sign of the baby’s parents. Finally they must surrender the baby to a foster family, who name her Allison. Visiting her in Northumberland, Liam meets Oliver, a foster son from Liberia who claims to be a refugee from the war there, and Crystal, a foster daughter. When Liam’s parents decide to adopt Allison, Crystal and Oliver are invited to her christening. There, Oliver tells Liam about how he will be slaughtered if he is sent back to Liberia. The next time Liam sees Crystal, it is when she and Oliver have run away from their foster homes, desperate to keep Oliver from being sent back to Liberia. In a cave where the two are hiding, Liam learns the truth behind Oliver’s dark past—and is forced to ponder what all children are capable of.
“Live an adventure. Live like you’re in a story.”
Liam, the main character of the story, is on the fence of some upcoming change of his life, as he feels less and less in common with his friend Max, not to mention his old friend, Nattrass.
Liam and Max find an abandoned baby in their neighborhood. This event is the catalyst which sets events in motion in Liam’s life.
Jackdaw Summer is a kind of coming-of-age novel, dealing with friendship, loosening the bond between friends, changing their attitudes and behaviors.
Parts which seem irrelevant nicely balance the tension of the story, and make it consumable by relatively young children as well. There is a mystery, but not that big, and certain things are never revealed. But it’s okay, as neither the plot, nor the characters are really important in ‘Jackdaw Summer’, even though the characters are debatable in their complexity.
The novel is about fundamental moral issues, such as the essence of good and bad, truth and lies, morality, violence, responsibility, the consequences of your decisions. The novel also deals with political themes, such as war and terrorism. Furthermore, it presents different levels of emotional intelligence of children at the same age, and their different attitude toward the ideas mentioned above.
Most remarkable about this novel is that it is not didactic. The unbiased approach of the author leaves you free space to think about the characters, the events, and the ideas provoked by their actions and thoughts. You are allowed to decide if you agree or disagree. Almond doesn’t influence the reader at all.
Jackdaw Summer is a provocative story, written in a compact, but imaginative style. Highly recommended!
The novel is also published under the title of Raven Summer.
See my favorite quotes on my Tumblr page,
Daily Quotes by Exina, from 442 to 448.