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The Child Who: A Novel Paperback – February 28, 2012
This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A thriller packed full of secrets and a twisty story that never stops - from the bestselling author of "The Couple Next Door." See more
“And just when you think Lelic has said all he intends to say about society’s hysterical fear of violent children, he gives the subject one last, diabolical twist.” — Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“Gripping… The much acclaimed, award-winning British writer Simon Lelic continues to impress with his second psychological thriller, The Child Who.” — Houston Chronicle
"British author Lelic follows his acclaimed debut, A Thousand Cuts, with an equally gripping psychological thriller also inspired by a horrific real-life crime…Lelic dares to make his lead less than Atticus Finch…and the plot unfolds in a way few readers will anticipate." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"By page three, Simon Lelic's harrowing and haunting novel The Child Who has you utterly in its snares. A daring writer but also a deeply open- hearted one, he renders his flawed but sympathetic characters with the most tender of hands, heightening the tale's suspense and drawing us even closer." — Megan Abbott, author of The End of Everything
"Lelic faces thorny issues of guilt and responsibility head on, and no one comes out unscathed." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An agile, perceptive writer...Could this be Lelic's breakthrough book? It deserves to be." — The Guardian (UK)
“Lelic’s three novels are breakneck, intelligent ‘social thrillers’ that even invade my dream-life.”—David Mitchell — David Mitchell
About the Author
Simon Lelic has worked as a journalist and currently runs his own business. He was born in Brighton, England in 1976 and lives there now with his wife and two sons. This is his first novel.
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Top customer reviews
"The Child Who" written by Simon Lelic is of the murder/mystery genre of fiction novels. The writing style is variously complex and lengthy with liberal use of commas and a mixed narration that mimics conversation at times. Occasionally, close attention is required to discern meaning where comma delimited references appear seeming to substitute for parenthetical references.
The story in main is about a young boy, one Daniel Blake, who inexplicably murders his schoolmate Felicity Forbes and about a lawyer, one Leo Curtice and his family that becomes involved in the case when Leo attempts to represent Daniel before the court of jurisprudence and the court of public opinion.
This novel seems to have some difficulty right from the start. There seems to be background missing that would ordinarily have provided the reader with a sense of the outrage that the author alludes to in the composition. While the murder by a 12 year old is certainly a horrific ordeal, the implication that the boy was publicly loathed just short of lynching just doesn't surface. Add to this, then, the reaction of Leo Curtice's family and things just don't seem to fit right. The character development is also an issue; Daniel Blake seems almost alien, not unsympathetic and not characteristically what would be expected from a 12 year old either but not loathsome, and there lies the problem, because loathsome is what is required to sustain the plot. Leo Curtice provides another anomaly; he comes across as almost a dolt in his dealings with business partners and his family; and Megan, Leo's wife and daughter Ellie come across as a narcissists. All in all a strange compendium of characters which do not seem to support the plot development and leave you with a raised eyebrow and that unfulfilled feeling, especially at the twist in the conclusion which in many ways is incomprehensible.
I would recommend this novel only with reservations. I don't think the plot development and the characters are particularly satisfying. I would rate this work "Pleasurable but not memorable".
Although I did not appreciate the attempt to justify the killer's actions by blaming society, his parents and everyone else for his actions because he was so young, the author did briefly touch on the view from the victim's side of the fence in an interesting way. There are no easy answers to the questions and issues raised in this book, but I do feel that it leant too much towards the view that children are not to blame for the evil they commit: what was not properly explored, was that for every 8 abused children who become abusers themselves (a statistic quoted on Pg 200 of AS IF by Blake Morrison,) there are 2 who choose to escape repeating that pattern by taking responsibility for their own actions, despite the failings of society, their parents etc.
However, Lelic still managed to weave a tense, compassionate tale without resorting to blood spattered pages and an over use of swear words. He didn't need too; his characters and his talented use of words were powerful enough to keep one glued to the pages, wanting to see how Leo's choices played out.
The surprise ending was much in keeping with the tone of the book, which ultimately shows how a well-written story can be used to bring important issues to the public's attention.
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