Following on from my recent Author Interview with Gail Aldwin, today I’m delighted to share my book review of This Much Huxley Knows. Gail’s latest contemporary fiction novel, was released earlier this month, and the author kindly sent me an Advanced Reader Copy to review. Before I share my thoughts on 7 year old Huxley, here’s the background to this new book.
Book Cover Notes
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.
‘Read this and feel young again’ – Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride
‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did
‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas
Huxley is an adorable, sweet natured 7 year old boy. Sometimes he is teased or bullied by other children – or as he calls it, “picking-on”. He’s an ‘only’, but he would really like a little sister, like his friend Ben, but mum and dad aren’t so sure. He’ll keep working on them.
As I started to read the book I soon realised this was a rather unique style of writing. Huxley is a wonderful character to meet, full of energy and inquisitive about everything he sees. I enjoyed reading a story told from a 7 year olds view of the world.
Huxley had such a vivid imagination, it was fun reading how he coped with different emotions he was feeling. From being bored, hungry, happy, sad or scared (especially when mum and dad shout), it was really interesting and often funny to read the dialogue going on in his head. He shared his thoughts on how he felt about his parents, the kids at school and trying to make new friends. And as for avoiding getting into trouble (again) with his teachers, well that was a work in progress!
Huxley likes to feel happy and he loves word-play, such as ‘sent-a-ball’ for sensible, but people don’t always get it. At first this was quite cute but it soon turned into me rolling my eyes thinking ‘Oh Huxley!’ 🙂
Early in the story Huxley makes a new friend in a disabled elderly man called Leonard who seems to understand Huxley just fine. Leonard seems to pop up everywhere, the barbers, the cafe, the swimming pool and he’s very generous with offers of chocolate and a ride on his disabled scooter. There were moments when I felt that Leonards character was a little creepy. I wasn’t sure whether I liked this character and whether Huxley’s opinion of Leonard was correct or that of his parents. All is revealed later in the book.
The story sensitively deals with a number of issues including bullying, prejudice, loneliness, isolation and trust. It was not surprising the way Huxley’s parents reacted to Leonard, believing they were protecting Huxley. Most parents would do the same I’m sure, as sadly we live in a world where it is difficult to know who to trust.
Something a little different. An original and refreshing style of writing. This Much Huxley Knows tackles some important topics but it does so in a light-hearted ‘Huxley’ way.
This book is sure to be a hit with parents who will identify with Huxley’s energetic and mischievous nature. They may even learn a thing or two about how children think and see the world.
Where To Buy
Further book info
- Published Date: 7th July 2021
- Publisher: Black Rose Writing
- Page Count: 223
About the Author
Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin’s debut coming-of-age novel The String Games was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020.
Following a stint as a university lecturer, Gail’s children’s picture book Pandemonium was published. Gail loves to appear at national and international literary and fringe festivals. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset.
Where to Find Gail Online
Related Post: Author Interview with Gail Aldwin – I had a lovely Q&A chat with the Gail about being a writer and what inspired her to write her latest book.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my book review of This Much Huxley Knows by Gail Aldwin. Don’t forget to check out the author’s previous books:
The String Games – When four-year-old Josh is abducted and murdered during a family holiday in France, Nim, aged ten, becomes an only child. To cope with tragedy, Nim reinvents herself but continues to carry a burden of unresolved grief. As an adult, she returns to France determined to find out more about the circumstances of Josh’s death. How will she deal with this new information and what are the implications for her future?
Pandemonium (Children’s story) Peta doesn’t look like other pandas in the toy department because of her purple coat. This provides camouflage and enables her to get up to mischief. When an assistant spots Peta this puts an end to her tricks. Peta must learn more about herself … but does this stop Peta’s fun? Of course not! A perfect story for children 2–7 years.