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#BookReview: Beck by Mal Peet & Meg Rosoff #MPBooks

Beck book coverTitle: Beck

Author: Mal Peet (&Meg Rosoff)

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

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Description: Born of a brief encounter between his mother and an African sailor on the streets of Liverpool in the 1900s, Beck lives a life that is defined by a longing to find his place in the world.  Orphaned and shipped to Canada and the untender care of the Catholic Brothers, he finds little humanity as he journeys westwards.  What will it take for Beck to finally find home?

My Review: ‘Beck’ is a YA historical fiction novel which unfortunately just didn’t hold my attention.  Set, in the beginning, in Liverpool but mostly Canada in the early 1900s the story follows Beck, an orphaned mixed race boy who finds it hard to find a place he can call home.  The first few pages are actually a backstory explaining how Beck came to be, how his parents met, but then the book really starts with Beck being taken to the orphanage and what happens there and beyond.

Although the start of the novel was a bit strange to me, focusing on Beck’s parents and their encounter, I did get into this, at first.  It’s not long before the orphanage ships Beck along with other boys to Canada and this is where the real story starts.  I won’t go into too much detail so I don’t spoil it for anyone but this part of the book for me was the best.  What happens to Beck while staying with the Christian Brothers is very dark but also very compelling.  Although I could guess at the start that Beck would face these sorts of problems, it’s what actually happens and the way things are described that kept my attention throughout this section of the book.  I did think that this story would continue especially after a particular brutal incident, however this part of the novel just ends with another section starting in a different location completely.

The book has four parts and each part is a separate section of Beck’s life.  Usually I don’t mind a story moving along a few months or even years like this, but each part is almost like a separate short story/novella with little reference to what happened previously and although we sometimes see Beck remembering something there’s never a deep look at how affected he is by the events of his past.  In fact the whole novel took on this distant feel to it that I didn’t like and it makes me question whether it’s a YA novel at all.  For me YA means you get to know the characters and what they are thinking but Beck is a very closed character.  We see what he’s doing but we rarely really get inside his head.  It also didn’t help that each time a new part started there is a backstory of the other characters that Beck has just met.  The back story of the last two parts had so much information about Bone and then Grace that it made me lose interest entirely as I really wanted to continue Beck’s story but had to wade through many pages of other people’s back story first.  While the backstory was interesting and helped in understanding the next part I wish it had been explained in a better way, in bits, like most books do.

This novel has some use of the s and f swear words with the f word having multiple spellings due to the dialogue being written as you hear it, with accents such as: “An’ yer don’ wanna go down there.  Tha’s right, ennit”, which I don’t enjoy reading in books especially modern ones as it slows down my reading.  The whole book is dark with violence and abuse which can be hard to read.  Because of this I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone but a mature teen and older.

While the whole book had a lot of potential I just didn’t enjoy reading this.  The ending is a good and satisfying one but with no real resolution to what happened at the beginning.  I liked parts of the story and each part on its own would have made an interesting story but together this whole book just doesn’t work for me and it’s a shame because I really thought it would get deeper into the mind of Beck and the effects of what happened to him.  Some parts of the book read differently too, with parts of the descriptions bordering on too flowery and other parts not. but maybe this is due to the fact that Mal Peet the author died before finishing this novel and some of the text was written by Meg Rosoff.  I don’t know if this had any effect on the overall plot but this book just didn’t appeal to me, despite numerous good review for it, and I won’t be reading it again.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.

Have you read Beck or another Mal Peet novel?  Let me know what you thought, or if you think it’s a book you’d like to read?  I’d love to hear from you 🙂  Chat with me in these places too:

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#Poetry: Life With You #MPBooks

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I really don’t want to comment on this poem here.  I’d rather you read it first and then tell me what you think.  I’d really like some opinions on this, it’s inspired by a daily prompt.

Life With You

I knew your pain as you did mine,
A kindred soul, love divine.
I wept, I shared all my fears,
You held me tight through all the tears.
Felt our hearts were true, entwined,
Our broken pasts were all behind.

I finally see through;
New life with you.

Together we made fresh new start,
Vowed to never be apart.
Happiness, peace, at last inside,
When we joined, husband, bride.
Pact, a promise we did seal,
For our lives, true ideal.

I finally see through;
New life with you.

Days and months becoming years,
Came the laughter, came the sneers.
Nothing ever done too right,
Always ready for a fight.
Talking in a monotone,
Left at home all alone.

I finally see through;
New life with you.

I knew your pain as you gave mine,
A blacked soul, love a brine.
I wept, realised all my fears,
You held me tight, caused all my tears.
Felt your heart untrue, I pined,
My broken past left me blind.

I finally see through;
Life: illusion with you.

This poem took me some time to write as it came from an emotional place.  Please let me know what you think of it.

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#Poetry: How Many Times? #MPBooks

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I had a bit of a bad day yesterday (depressive thoughts and feelings) and turned to writing as an outlet.  The result is this dark poem.  The good news is that it lifted my mood to post this, as if the writing of my dark thoughts leave me when I write.  I hope it is well received despite the darkness of it.

How Many Times?

How many times did I, let you inside?
Spent life afraid, wanting to hide.
Why did I let you, say those things to me?
Blinded by love, expecting you to see.
How could you take, control of my life?
Forgot who I was, more than just a wife.
Why didn’t I see, that I could simply leave?
Made me think no-one, would want to ever grieve.
How many times did I, let you get inside?
Too late to count now, I’ve already died.

Poem inspired by the daily prompt word Total (as in ‘total number of times…’)

 Please let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you.  Come check me out in these places too 🙂 : 

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