"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Thursday, April 12, 2007

At the Firefly Gate


At the Firefly Gate
Author: Linda Newbery
Publisher: David Fickling Books
ISBN-10: 0385751133
ISBN-13: 978-0385751131

At the Firefly Gate is a lovely story of friendship, love, loss and simple courage. Henry and his parents move to a quiet Suffolk village near an old World War II airfield. Henry is upset about the move and misses his friends in the city very much. He has the usual dread of a new school, making new friends, getting made fun of. Henry is a small child and very shy. On his first night in his new home, he looks out the window and sees a man smoking at the gate with sparkling lights around him. This frightens Henry and adds to his feeling that he shouldn’t be living there.

As the days pass, Henry makes friends with the neighbor’s old aunt Dottie. Henry reminds Dottie of her fiancé (also named Henry), an RAF navigator who disappeared in the war. Henry and Dottie seem to have a deep bond while Dottie’s great niece lives to torment him.

Things start to get really interesting when Henry starts hearing the sound of WW2 planes flying overhead at night. Henry gets the feeling of being in someone else’s body and he starts to see visions of another time. He dreams of a life as an RAF navigator and starts to believe there’s a ghost out there that needs him to do something. He sees the guy from his gate as a young air force pilot talking to a girl at a restaurant. Henry begins to investigate the time by asking old-timers.

The book is well-written and tells it’s tale with a quiet and gentle force. The book almost reads as if it were written in the era Henry dreams about which was a pleasant surprise. There’s modern touches well that depict Henry’s present day life like the flight simulation game he plays that shows him more of RAF Henry’s mystery. The descriptions of the Suffolk town where Henry lives in are just wonderful. You feel you're there.
I love the courage Henry shows, the friendship and the kindness he shows to an elderly and dying woman. The book is so quietly emotional and real that you will find it moves you profoundly.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Gina: This is my favorite book of the year so far. I LOVED it. You're right--it's quiet, and small, but so beautiful.