Written by N. D. Gomes
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The Lovereading4Kids comment
November 2016 Debut of the Month
In a Nutshell: Shocking school shooting | Heartache behind headlines A thoroughly thought-provoking tale of a family’s struggle with grief and guilt in the aftermath of an atrocious act committed by a loved one.
It’s Britain, 1996, and sixteen-year-old Sam is plunged into unimaginable turmoil the day his brother Charlie walks into their school and shoots his peers before turning the gun on himself. From that fateful day, Sam’s mum lunges from denial to utter distress, while his dad shuts himself away in the garage (the moment readers discover what he was doing there will bring a lump to the throat, at the very least). In addition, the entire family is ostracised by their community. “Perhaps people thinks it’s a disease they might catch - a contagious need for death and disorder”, Sam wonders. Already eaten up by guilt - would this have happened if he’d been a better brother to Charlie? - Sam is asked not to return to school, which leaves him feeling like he’s being forced to do his brother’s life sentence. His therapist suggests that starting a new school might be his “turning point” and, as things turns out, he’s unexpectedly invited into a new social circle: “They were accepting...they offered you a place without condition or question”. But, while Sam finds strength in these new friendships, not least in his burgeoning romantic feelings for Izzy, his home life is deteriorating further, and the hate mail and abuse intensifies as a petition to ban hand-held guns gains ground nationally.
This big-hearted book doesn’t shirk from tackling big issues, emotions and questions - how do we survive and recover a sense of hope through the most destructive personal tragedies? What leads an individual to commit mass murder, and where does the blame lie? What role does the media play in inciting abuse and prolonging grief? It also gives voice to the oft-forgotten victims of such tragedies, and will make readers think, and see comparable real-life events through different lens. ~ Joanne Owen
Teens 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.
- Kyra, age 17 - 'Dear Charlie is a heart-rending, thought-provoking and eye-opening read that tackles a devastating, controversial subject in a beautifully honest manner.'
- Humaira, age 18- 'I usually wouldn't even buy this type of book- I'd be intrigued by it, read the blurb, think it sounded good and put it back. BUT I am over the moon that I read it because Dear Charlie made me feel something that I haven't ever felt with a book before.'
- Bethan, age 15 - 'This is an interesting and captivating book, different to any young adult books out there.'
- Rose Heathcote, age 17 - 'I will recommend this book to my friends as I found it very interesting and informative, it gripped me from the begining. I would give it 4/5 stars.'
- Emily Kinder, age 15 - 'An emotionally tense and elegantly written story about family tragedy, centred around the brother of a school shooter. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did.'
- Zara Kazi, age 18 - 'A very powerful novel that is relevant to current events that are happening in the world. Dear Charlie is a must-read.'
- Destiny, age 14 - 'Dear Charlie was a very interesting, fascinating read. I loved this novel. '
- Farah Alam - 'really interesting and really great to read.'
Dear Charlie by N. D. Gomes
Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie. At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed. Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong.
From Scottish author and special educational needs expert, N.D Gomes, comes a contemporary YA debut that questions life, death, right and wrong in the wake of a school shooting in England, 1996 – the same year as the Dunblane school massacre which took place twenty years ago near N.D Gomes’s university town of Stirling, Scotland.
About the Author
Interest Age: From 13
N. D. Gomes
More books by N. D. Gomes
Mira Ink an imprint of Harlequin (UK)
20th October 2016
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