Saturday, 28 April 2012

The voice of the young

Youth, mine is fading fast on the outside but still going strong in my head. Instead of mourning my lost youth though, today's post is dedicated to books that I have loved in which the main protagonist is a child or young adult.

The Little Friend, Donna Tartt
Telling the story from 12 year old Harriet's point of view as she sets out to find out who murdered her baby brother, the writing in this book is truly evocative. I was there in small town America, where I could feel the heat, the dust catching in my throat and the eyes of the neighbourhood boring into the back of my head. The pace is slow and indolent just like the long summer days it takes place over, and as Harriet sets her sights on local junkie, Danny, as being the likely suspect the tension builds as the reader can see the danger she’s creating whereas she has no idea.

The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Not just one but four young girls share the narrative in this tale of a 1950s Baptist preacher from the US of A who transports his family to the Congo, where he is blind to the devastation that their presence, and his attempts to convert the locals they live amongst, wreaks. Not just an incredible story, this book is an incredible writing achievement to create four voices that are so authentic and so different to each other. Spanning the sisters’ childhood into adulthood, it is the young voices from those early days in Africa that linger in the mind.

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Set in Germany during WW2, this is nine year old Liesel’s tale but told from Death’s point of view. Liesel lives with a foster family, as her parents have disappeared into the concentration camps, where she first learns to read then about the fate of the Jews. Telling the tale of ordinary German people in the war, despite the subject matter, this book ultimately leaves you with a sense of hope about the beauty of human nature at its best. Both lovely and harrowing at the same time, it lives with you long after the last page has been read.

There are many more but I will stop there so you can tell me the books with child narrators that you have loved. 


  1. Gogg choices. Especially Poisonwood Bible. That one has stayed with me.

    1. Me too. Years since I read it and it hasn't really faded at all.

  2. I love both The Little Friend and The Poisonwood Bible. I have not read The Book Thief, because I stay away from books and films about the holocaust. You should take a look at my list on of books you may not have heard of - though I'm sure you've heard of every one of them! So nice to connect with another passionate reader.

    1. Thanks Sharon, I checked out the list and hadn't heard of a few of them. Think Shopgirl just got added to my really long reading list. When will I find time to read them all?!

  3. Hi Amanda .. someone else came up with the Book Thief the other day .. can't remember who - but it's one I must read, though I don't like reading about that period ..

    Cheers Hilary