Just looking at the cover of this book shows that it is not going to be a comfortable read. The teenage /dystopian genre is very popular, and began by showing young adults how powerful they could be if they stood together and faced up to opposition. The central character in this book, Charlie, has become so used to “The Regime”, night patrols, curfews and random attacks, that he is almost content with his lot. Not so his parents who remember earlier times, with a Library, and shops. Some sexual references and innuendo are used in this story.
Our story begins with a young boy Charlie, who is curious, and smart, and interested in how the world works. He and his family live in Little Town, which borders Old Country. Little Town has lost its government to a Regime, who bully and harass people. The people know little about Old Country, but recognize the animosity between the two places. Charlie has just met a refugee family, from Old Country, who has moved next door. Pavel, or Pav, a young boy, and his family have come to Little Town to live. Father was a scientist, and mother was a doctor, in Old Country, but here, father may only be a cleaner at the hospital and mother is not allowed to work. Pav has a poor grasp of the language, so Charlie kindly decides to teach him to speak well, to protect him from bullies at school.
Firstly they need a space to work in and decide to clean out the old shed and make it a meeting place. One of the senior boys at school is always bragging that he can get anything, so Charlie speaks to him. Through this boy Norman, Charlie gets to meet the “Big Man”, or leader of the Regime, who says he will help, but will need Charlie to do him some favours. War with the Old Country is imminent, with bombs dropped on Little Town, destroying the few facilities they had.
After several meetings with the “Big Man”, Charlie finds himself in an incredible situation.
He has been ordered to assassinate a soldier. If he doesn’t comply his mother’s supply of inhalers will no longer be available. What a dilemma! This is where the planning, thinking and cunning save the situation. What a bleak story this is; maybe teenage boys would relate to this story in a more positive way. Watching Charlie mature as he has to deal with issues and problems is rather sad, and at times the story is a little ponderous.
Comparisons with today’s political situations are slightly relevant, however we really don’t find out why Pav’s family has migrated, except that his sister has been brainwashed. The fact that people live daily in fear of their lives in some places is real; however, individual acts of bravery won’t change much there.
NOTE: Bloomsbury Publishing is thrilled to announce Brian Conaghan has won the Costa Children’s Book Award 2016 for The Bombs That Brought Us Together.
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|