This Much Huxley Knows – Gail Aldwin

Published By: Black Rose Writing
Pages: 223
Date Published: 07/07/2021

I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.

Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?

Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.

*****

Thanks to Gail for sending me a gifted copy of her book in return for an honest review.

First and foremost, this is such a sensitive book about a number of sensitive topics such as adoption, bullying, and child endangerment. Whilst it’s not specifically stated, I took Huxley to be a child with additional needs. I have experience with children with additional needs and it can be hard to write in their voice and still sound genuine, but Gail has done this with such care. It could have easily slipped into a comedic mickey-take but it doesn’t.

Huxley seemed so real. If I’m honest, I didn’t really care about the other characters – not that they were badly written or not interesting, but because Huxley is such a compelling scene stealer that I couldn’t stop wanting to hear more from him.

It is a lovely fresh take on seeing a child’s view as to how adults behave as we often don’t pay attention to what we’re doing, whereas children notice EVERYTHING.

With a lot of books, you are very aware you’re reading a fictional tale of a fictional character, but Gail writes with such skill that you are fully immersed and forget that this family’s life is not part of your own.

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