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Raven Summer Hardcover – November 10, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–9—Liam lives with his father, a famous writer, and his mother, a photographer, on Britain's Northumbrian coast. One day out wandering with his friend Max, Liam is led by a raven to a baby left with a note and some money. When Liam and his parents visit the infant's foster family, Liam connects immediately with two of the foster children, Crystal, a wild-child girl, and Oliver, a refugee from Liberia. Liam's mother falls in love with the baby, and she comes to live with his family. When Crystal and Oliver run away to Liam's secret hideaway, Oliver reveals his true identity, and Liam is forced to explore the darkest parts of his own soul as he realizes the evil he is capable of doing. Raven Summer is set in the recent past against the backdrop of the war in Iraq. It explores how children everywhere are physically and psychologically scarred by violence and brutality that they cannot escape and can be led to do horrible things. Almond's story is a passionate plea for peace, and the putting away of weapons of war. While the question of the book's audience is a valid one, and while there are perhaps a few places where the children seem impossibly wise, and are even perhaps acting as mouthpieces for the author, this book is exquisitely crafted and will make any reader stop and think about the consequences of violence.—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Starred Review, Booklist, September 15, 2009:
"The kindness in every chapter is heartbreaking too. A haunting story, perfect for group discussion."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, November 9, 2009: “Almond tackles complex questions about humanity
 from multiple points of view; flashes of wisdom—sometimes painful, sometimes uplifting—arrive at unexpected moments”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2009: “[A] hypnotic, sensuous foray into the nature of war, truth, art and the savagery of humanity.”
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 480L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (November 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738064
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,411,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
David Almond has a reputation for crafting oddly beautiful, thought-provoking books that remain with readers long after the final pages. His newest work holds this same power. Full of images both alluring and deeply disturbing, RAVEN SUMMER is the kind of atmospheric novel that will haunt readers' thoughts.

Liam is all too aware that he is on the cusp of great changes as he spends one last summer of childhood with his friends and family on England's Northumbrian coast. This bleak but beautiful landscape that surrounds him offers plenty of fodder for the imagination; historic artifacts and ancient structures play roles in daily lives, even in the 21st century. Liam and his friends still love to while away their days hiking and playing football, spending long summer evenings playing games similar to hide and seek. But Liam finds that the focus of his friends --- and, at times, he himself --- has turned in different directions, both toward the increasingly attractive prospect of the opposite sex and, in a darker turn, toward violence.

Liam's thoughts often turn toward violent topics; planes bound for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan roar overhead regularly, and several soldiers from his area have died or been kidnapped in wars overseas. His own mother, an artist, has obtained a fair measure of success, in part by photographing abstract images of the wounds on Liam's body in the wake of fights with his friends. These fights grow increasingly menacing as Liam tries and fails to distance himself from his childhood friend, Gordon Nattrass. Nattrass also fancies himself an artist, and his video installation --- which focuses on disturbing reenactments of hangings and beheadings --- inspires Liam and his parents to consider the fine line between art and sensationalism.
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Format: Hardcover
David Almond's RAVEN SUMMER is dark (like a raven) and deals with the age-old (try Biblically-old) question of the demon seed. As Adam and Eve learned the hard way, sinning is easier than you think. And then they raised Cain, who really emphasized the point. Humans -- even children -- possess the ability to do good and the ability to commit evil... unspeakable evil, in fact.

To prove his point, Almond takes an everyday British lad of the Highlands (Liam), adds a nasty neighbor boy who likes to torture animals and bully friends (Nattrass), and injects a Liberian refugee whose parents were murdered and who was trained by the murderers to be a murderer himself (Oliver). Somehow he brings this strange brew together near a place where British soldiers just happen to be playing war games. This sets up the deus ex machina, ending it all quite neatly.

The style is severely clipped with enough short sentences to bring Hemingway to mind. Realism is ignored at times, too, so be prepared for possible eye rollers. A "thinking lad's book," RAVEN SUMMER does not have a particularly gripping plot, so if that is your bread and butter, prepare for a salad. Might make for good discussion material, especially in light of boy soldiers used in Africa and the exploited use of children in both fascist and Communist regimes of the past.
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Format: Hardcover
In the eerie, literary voice David Almond is so well-known for, Raven Summer chronicles the life of Liam Lynch, a young man living on the English country side. When he and his friend follow a Raven on one lazy summer afternoon, they're shocked to find an abandoned baby. What unfolds is a chain of events that all lead back to that day. The people Liam meets through saving the baby will change his life, and the life of his family, forever. Touching on current events, the human condition, and coming of age, everyone will see a bit of themselves in these characters. Part adventure, part drama, part contemporary folk tale, Raven Summer is the kind of book that stays with you long after you've read it.
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