Reader Reviewed Beck by Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff
  

Beck

Written by Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff

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*** Suitable for ages 16+

Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Julia Eccleshare's Book of the Month September 2016 In turns brutal and passionate, Beck is an utterly compelling story of survival and romance which will catch the breath of all readers and inspire them to fight against injustice. And to trust in the power of love. The eponymous Beck’s fate is a bleak one: conceived accidentally, orphaned young and betrayed by all those who might have looked after him, Beck is dispatched to Canada, a country then in the grip of depression. Abused by the Christian Brothers and still a young child, Beck is sent into a life of servitude made worse by prejudice because he is black. Escaping, Beck takes to the road in search of something better. His journey and the experiences on it are harrowing but, when it reaches its end, Beck discovers kindness and love and finds there is a place for him in the world. Award-winning Mal Peet’s final story has been finished by his friend and fellow award-winning novelist Meg Rosoff. Together they have created an unflinching story that tackles the many inequalities of the world head on. ~ Julia Eccleshare

Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for September 2016

A Poem for Every Night of the Year compliled by Allie Esiri

Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes by Julia Donaldson

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

Beck by Mal Peet and Meg Rosoff

Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel by Philippa Pearce and Edith

Jinks and O'Hare Funfair Repair by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntryre

Reader Reviews

Teens and YA's love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Melanie Chadwick - 'At times very bleak, this is a very tough story of hardships endured and a childhood ruined. The overall feeling of the book is however one of hope.'

  • Humaira, age 18 - 'I wish it was to my taste but alas it wasn't. Hopefully it resonates well with someone else.' 

Synopsis

Beck by Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff

Both harrowing and life-affirming, the final novel from Carnegie Medal-winning author Mal Peet is the sweeping coming-of-age adventure of a mixed race boy transported to North America. Born from a street liason between a poor young woman and an African soldier in the 1900s, Beck is soon orphaned and sent to the Catholic Brothers in Canada. Shipped to work on a farm, his escape takes him across the continent in a search for belonging. Enduring abuse and many hardships, Beck has times of comfort and encouragement, eventually finding Grace, the woman with whom he can finally forge his life and shape his destiny as a young man.

A picaresque novel set during the Depression as experienced by a young black man, it depicts great pain but has an uplifting and inspiring conclusion.

Reviews

The gut-wrenching story of a boy searching for warmth in a cold and often hostile world. [...] Beck is a fantastic character - clever, resourceful, and with an indomitable instinct for survival. You want to follow him right up to his hard-won happy ending. The Guardian

This extraordinary novel is powerful, shocking, uplifting, funny and beautifully written. Every page of this book is bursting with life, observation, feeling and conviction. It is a collaboration between two remarkable writers, fusing the best of both. The Sunday Times Book of The Week

The author's language is so rich throughout and Beck's journey told with such apparent effortlessness, this swan song deserves readers and a prize of its own. The Times Weekend

Peet is fabulously talented -- Amanda Craig The Literary Review

For some time now Mal Peet has been the most elegant prose stylist in the world of young-adult fiction [...] one of our best novelists, full stop. -- Anthony McGowan

A master storyteller, Peet died more than a year ago, so a final novel from him is something very special indeed. [...] an episodic coming-of-age drama that is powerful and harrowing but ultimately uplifting. The Bookseller

His final book, almost finished at the time of his death, and completed by Rosoff at his request. It's a powerful, harrowing and ultimately uplifting coming-of-age drama following the adventures of a mixed-race boy transported to North America. The Bookseller

A compelling coming-of-age story, with an equally beautiful and brutal backstory Eastern Daily Press

Beck is a beautiful story, with a sad but beautiful background. Bookwitch

It's a raw, challenging, coming-of-age story where the instinct to survive almost trumps the power of love. Peet's wit seeps through the darkness and though Rosoff 's almost invisible hand is skilful, it reminds us of what a wonderful writer we have lost. Daily Mail

How much of this is Peet and how much Rosoff is left an open question. What really matters is that this novel definitely comes off, with its softening of tone towards the end balanced by the graphic cruelty that has gone before. Beck himself is a difficult, taciturn character, who has long 'misered the cold coins of disappointment close to his heart. Understandably suspicious whenever things seem to be working out for him he is still able to accept his good fortune by the end, and a few if any of his readers would wish it otherwise. Books for Keeps

Engrossing, overwhelming and at times shocking, Beck is an epic novel in just over 250 pages. It's impossible to tell where Peet's work ended and Rosoff's began. It's a remarkable swansong for Peet and an outstanding piece of storytelling from Rosoff. The Scotsman

How much of this is Peet and how much Rosoff is left an open question. What really matters is that this novel definitely comes off, with its softening of tone towards the end balanced by the graphic cruelty that has gone before. Books for Keeps

[...] powerful, vividly told, beautifully written collaboration Shelf Awareness

Hardship shapes Beck's life. Born in 1908 to an Irish mother and African father, he finds the world to be unwelcoming to people of mixed race, especially poor ones. After his parents die, he is shipped overseas to the predatory Catholic Brothers in Canada, and suffers grave abuses at the hands of those who were supposed to protect him. From there, Beck experiences one privation after another. Even in the midst of his misery, Beck continues his search for a place of belonging. He finally believes he has found it in Grace, a troublesome woman from a long line of troublesome women who offers shelter when he needs it most. This book tackles big issues: racism, sexual abuse by clergy members, poverty, and examines the effects of childhood trauma on developing adults. The plot is driven by Beck's need for security and acceptance, and his traumatic past influences the brooding tone of the novel. A well-written work on a difficult topic, this book would be best introduced with a trigger warning. School Library Connection

[..] a beautifully written novel. Rosoff shakes off her whimsy to write in spare and powerful prose. [...] Year nine and above, male or female, school librarians, teachers, adults, read this moving and memorable novel. SLA

Praise for Mal Peet

“Profound, lyrical, yet compulsively addictive” Phil Earle on Keeper

“Physical, spiritual – Arthurian, even – this is true enchantment” Jan Mark on The Penalty

“Glorious, cartwheeling, magical, frightening” Frank Cottrell Boyce on The Penalty

“Totally electrifying” The Times on Exposure

“Peet’s prose is both lyrical and unflinching” Booklist on Exposure

“Witty, super-smart, heartbreakingly generous, it’s so good you almost want to keep it a secret” Patrick Ness on Life: An Exploded Diagram

“One of the best books I know” Daniel Hahn on Life: An Exploded Diagram

“Beautifully crafted with a finale that took my breath away” Publishing News on Tamar

“gorgeously detailed prose” Kirkus Reviews on Tamar

“Stunningly good” The Times on Exposure

“something for every reader” The Guardian on Keeper

“Impossible to put down” TES on The Penalty

“Peet’s language is beautiful and assured” Kirkus Reviews on The Penalty

About the Author

Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff

Mal Peet's first novel, Keeper, won the Branford Boase Award and the Bronze Nestle Children's Book Prize; Tamar won the Carnegie Medal; and Exposure was the winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. A writer and illustrator, Mal produced many books for children throughout his lifetime, most of them in collaboration with his wife, Elspeth Graham. He also wrote a critically acclaimed adult novel, The Murdstone Trilogy. Visit his website here.

Meg Rosoff is the award-winning author of How I Live Now, which won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, Just in Case, won the Carnegie Medal and her other books include Picture Me Gone and Jonathan Unleashed, her first novel for adults. She lives in London. Visit her website here.

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Book Info

Format

Hardback
272 pages
Interest Age: From 14 years

Author

Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff
More books by Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff

Publisher

Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

18th August 2016

ISBN

9781406331127

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