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 verge of a significant change. He feels he is drifting apart from his friends, Max and Nattrass, and that they have less and less in common.
One day, 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 coming-of-age novel, dealing with friendship, loosening the bond between friends, changing their attitudes and behaviors.
Some parts of the story seem irrelevant but they nicely balance the tension of the story, and make it consumable by relatively young readers as well. There is a mystery, but not that big, and certain things are never revealed. But what is important here is not really the plot, but some fundamental moral issues the plot and the characters support.
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. The characters are compelling in their complexity.
The most remarkable about this novel is that it’s not didactic. The unbiased approach of the author lets you develop your opinion freely 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 with the title of Raven Summer.
See my favorite quotes on my Tumblr page,
Daily Quotes by Exina.