Attitude: Take Care
In Brief: A gifted boy runs with a gang to rob a house; the boy's mother apparently sleeps with a man; a childless woman keeps a child she finds injured by the roadside; existence as music; delight in music as a gift; the support of another girl for the boy who's trying to come to terms with himself
Published in: 2002
Age Range: Young Teens
Luke Stanton, a gifted young musician, falls in with a local gang after his father dies but when he starts to rob an old lady's house, he finds himself drawn into her life.
14-year-old Luke Stanton's father, Matthew, was a brilliant pianist, a gift his son has inherited. He doesn't cope well with his father's death, though, and gets involved with a gang of boys who cause trouble and steal around their village. When he reluctantly breaks into an old lady's house to steal a box, he is caught by her and has to agree to come back and play the piano for her blind and handicapped granddaughter. He undergoes internal conflicts over his relationship with his mother, his acceptance of his gift of music, the need to keep secret his involvement with the gang and with the old lady and her granddaughter, and above all his strange ability to hear the music of the world, to sense things much more deeply than most people, another gift which his father also had.
This novel runs on several levels: on the one level, it is the story of a gifted boy and his mother coming to terms with his father's death; on another level, it portrays the struggles and conflicts of any teenage boy; finally, and somewhat mystically, it tries to make the case that it is Music which is at the heart of the Universe.
Luke's mother is a source of attraction to the men in the village, and in fact she does (presumably) sleep with the one whom she is closest to.
Mrs Little, the old lady in the story, has in fact kept the handicapped child whom she found lying by the roadside after an accident. Her own husband died during the war and she had longed for a child. Although initially intending to return the child to her parents, she changes her mind and decides to pass her off as her own granddaughter.
The author proposes the notion of the whole existence as a piece of music being played, the vibrations of a primal sound. This isn't necessarily at odds with belief in God, but might benefit from some discussion.
Mystical primal sounds aside, delight in music is at the heart of the protagonist's character and that of several others.
Miranda, another musician from school, tries to be as supportive as she can of Luke, even when he lets her down.
He started to play again, Ravel's “Pavane” this time... It was perhaps a little mournful and he wasn't sure he should be playing something that had once been written in memory of a dead child, but in a strange way the music seemed to mirror the mood he felt. He played on, through the opening bars into the hushed magic of the second section, still alone in the great room; then suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he caught a movement in the doorway again... The final bars seemed to come too soon. He took the chords slowly, then lifted his hands from the keys and let the stillness settle
Tuesday 1st January 2002