Tuesday, May 23, 2006
London Calling by Edward Bloor, 2006
I was standing in a booth at TLA clutching the ARC of this book when The Goddess of YA Literature arrived. I felt like I was in the presence of a rock star. I just wanted to follow her around the booth saying, "I'll have one of everything she is taking." We started talking and I was pleased when she asked me what I had and I was able to point her towards Bloor's new book which, she reviews today.
I love time travel books; I love WWII stories; I love stories set in England. I was also predisposed to like Bloor's book because one of my students told me that Tangerine was one of the best books he had ever read.
In the static between stations, on an old Philco radio, Martin hears a voice asking for help. The radio is a bequest from his grandmother. Suspended, unfairly, from All Souls School, Martin is living in the family basement where, he realizes, the other failed men of his family have taken refuge. Martin uses the glow from the radio as a night light and is listening, again, to the static when a boy named Jimmy appears and transports Martin back to London 1941. Jimmy needs Martin's help and in a series of visits, Martin tries to understand what is being asked of him.
In the present, Martin must confront truths about his family. Vowing not to return to All Souls where the wealthy legacy students are cosseted and given a pass, Martin throws himself into independant study projects about London during the Blitz and the workings of Philco radios.
His research and his trips back in time clarify his belief that he has a mission from God to fullfill.
Bloor evokes London during the Blitz with such clarity; you can hear the bombers and smell the smoke. This is a story of redemption. Bloor thoughtfully explores elements of religion, faith and spirituality, which are uncommon topics in YA books.
When I read the last word and closed the book, I felt tears in my eyes and I could only say, "Wow."