Rowan The Strange by Julie Hearn

Rowan The Strange

Written by Julie Hearn

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Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2010.

A powerful and compelling story of life in a mental asylum at the start of the Second World War. Rowan may be strange but he's not dangerous so when he is sent behind bars his battle behind them is only just beginning.

A fully stand-alone novel, however those who have read and enjoyed both Ivy and Hazel will find a fascinating connection as Rowan is Hazel's son. It really is historical fiction at its very best and most compelling.

Shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2009.


Rowan The Strange by Julie Hearn

CILIP CARNEGIE Medal SHORTLIST 2010: Judges’ comments

A hard-hitting but brilliantly descriptive and expressive novel which takes the reader on a journey to the heart of some difficult subject matter. Brutal at times, this is also a moving and compassionate story that really stays with you.

Had Rowan been invited to predict how the rest of that day would go his list would have gone something like this: 1. Breakfast 2. A nice long talk with the doctors 3. Lunch 4. A rest, or a walk in the fresh air 5. Another talk with the doctors 6. Supper 7. Read comics for a bit 8. Bed If asked what he would like to happen the list would have been much the same, only with more time for reading, and the proviso that nobody got to see him naked any more. He would also have liked to be smiled at again by the young nurse, Sarah Jane. But that was a private hope, not something to be shared. He would have got "Bed" right but that's about all. As the second World War begins, Rowan is diagnosed as schizophrenic and sent away to a hospital where the latest treatments are available. But the treatments are experimental still - and nobody predicts the effect they will have on Rowan...


Hearn is skilled at conveying the place and the time, but it is in the detail of human interactions that her novel is particularly remarkable Sunday Times An original story with an unusual and many-layered background Guardian I couldn't put this book down ... This is quite possibly the most amazing work of children's fiction I've read in the last two years ... The characters are absolutely fantastic, stunningly realised and brought to the page with such gusto that I didn't want it to end BookBag

About the Author

Julie Hearn

Julie Hearn was our Guest Editor in August 2011. Click here to see the books she selected.

Julie Hearn used to be a tabloid journalist but much prefers writing novels because she is less likely to be sued nowadays for making things up. After her daughter, Tilly, was born she began a degree in Education but switched to English after suffering a panic attack while attempting to teach maths to year six. She went on to complete a Masters Degree in Women's Studies at Oxford University, where an idea for her thesis became the inspiration for her first novel, Follow Me Down. Julie lives in Oxfordshire where she writes full time (most mornings anyway) in a pink and green office in her garden.

Julie Hearn Q&A:

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Ever since I can remember. When I was five I wrote stories about elves and rabbits on scraps of paper and sewed them up the middle to make little books. I wrote diaries too - pages and pages every day - and if nothing exciting had happened I made stuff up. My teenage diaries are shocking, but a pack of lies from start to finish.

I still wanted to write when I left school so I became a journalist. And that was great fun, for a long time, although when it came to making things up, there was only so far I could go!

Why did you decide to write children's books rather than books for adults?

I suppose I'd had enough of writing for adults - first as a journalist, then as a student of English and women's studies. I wanted to give my imagination free rein in a way that didn't have to be clever, or cynical, or have a great wodge of footnotes at the bottom of every page to explain things!

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Book Info


352 pages


Julie Hearn
More books by Julie Hearn

Author's Website


Oxford University Press

Publication date

1st April 2010




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