I finished David Almond’s Skellig today. Another fine YA novel. I’d say it skews to the older end of the YA range since there’s some fairly abstract stuff going on. Maybe I’m projecting but the kids I spend most of my time with expect firm answers to mysteries, and Skellig doesn’t deliver on that count. Instead its a tapestry woven from two threads, but in spite of that simplicity it still leaves you thinking. Oh, and I should note that the author is British so there’s some slang that you might need to explain to American kids.
Michael and his family have just moved to a ‘new’ house. Well, actually to a very old house in very bad repair. Michael has a newborn baby sister who is very, very sick. He’s worried about her, and his parents are on the edge of losing control of the fear that they feel for the baby. Michael ends up getting pushed aside a little bit (though not in any villainous way…you really feel for the parents and how hard they’re trying) and that’s where his experiences begins.
Because next to the house is a garage. A garage so packed with crud that its almost impossible to squeeze inside. And a garage so ramshackled that its about to collapse on itself. And inside that garage, Michael finds Skellig. Who, or what, is Skellig? Well you’ll have to read the book to find out.
Michael also meets Mina, a home-schooled girl wise beyond her years. Michael ends up spending a lot of time with Mina and her mother, studying nature, drawing, sculpting and so on. Oh, and reading Blake…
But while he’s exploring the neighborhood, his baby sister inches closer and closer to death. How or if these two threads connect, again, I’ll leave to you to discover. Don’t be put off by this book because its categorized YA. Its a magical experience. Almond writes in a really tight style. Most chapters are two or three pages long which gives it a staccato pacing… there’s all this stuff going on between chapters that you feel rather than read. Good stuff. Two thumbs up.