Sunday, 25 January 2009

A Child's Point of View

Finished January 23
When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale
This is the story of nine-year-old Lawrence and his family. When his mother Hannah believes her ex-husband is stalking her with ill intent, she drags Lawrence and his younger sister Jemima off to her old stomping ground of Rome from their home in London.
The entire story is told from Lawrence's point of view. Lawrence both annoys and placates young Jemima, observes his mother's old friends, and deals with his mother's changing feelings. I liked how Lawrence matched the people he met with animals that he felt suited them. He was also stuck on a book series, Hideous Histories, issues of which covered Petrifying Popes and Calamitous Caesars. He keeps giving little stories about the historic figures that he reads about and one finds that the often relate to issues around him. Lawrence also loves space and talks about the various facts he has learned about the universe.
Along for the trip is Lawrence's hamster, Herman, and he provides interesting lessons and distractions along the way. As I read, I began to realize that the problems that Lawrence and his family were fleeing didn't go away when they got to Rome, and Lawrence is just too young to be able to deal with them appropriately although he does try.
The one thing I thing I could had done without is the misspellings scattered throughout the text. I believe they are supposed to emphasize Lawrence's age, but I don't think that they added to the believability of the story, and I found them distracting.

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