I haven’t even figured out what this book is really about yet but I already know I will love it. Standish Treadwell, bullied 15 year old whose parents, and then his friend, have mysteriously disappeared, “con’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright.” He was once lucky enough to have a teacher who recognized the original in him, calling him “a breeze in the park of imagination.” Even better, as a kid who cannot make peace with the written word, he has cultivated a love for the sounds and meanings of words. And Gardner writes him with gorgeous language.
“I reckon that was the genius of the seat because you ended up sitting there looking small and less of anything, with your feet dangling and your knobbly knees blushing red.” (p. 21)
“There was no barbed wire or anything like that to fence it off. That notice alone had the power of a thousand scarecrows.” (p.23)
“I sat down, my heart an egg bumping against the side of a pan of boiling water.” (p.24)
“A word to describe that wall would be impenetrable. See. I might not be able to spell but I have a huge vocabulary. I collect words – they are sweets in the mouth of sound.” (p.24)
This story is like nothing I have read recently. Wholly original, moving, and bleak. I am very interested to read more from Sally Gardner.