Published by Orion Childrens Books
Alan Gibbons is an Award winning author, having won the Blue Peter Award and been shortlisted for both the Carnegie Medal and the Booktrust Teenage Prize – from the evidence I have just read in An Act of Love it’s not hard to see why he is so well respected.
This is the second book he has written to try to explain or deal with the current world climate following the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and the wars that have taken place since (the first being Caught in the Crossfire) and he has a real skill in being able to show all the emotions and feelings from everyone touched by or involved in the violence.
He clearly chooses to challenge himself as a writer, saying in the introduction;
‘Why do I choose such bleak subjects? Well, you only enter a dark room if you think you can light the way out.’
The book tells the story of two young friends, Chris and Imran, from their schoolboy years and choosing to call themselves ‘blood brothers’ at the age of seven, and their transition and break-down of the bond between them as a result of what starts to happen in the adult world. We follow Chris as he joins the army and leaves his hometown to head to Afghanistan and Imran, who stays home and slowly becomes influenced by those around him and looks as though to be heading on a path that will lead him to potentially strike terror within his own country.
But, the book moves quickly, starting with the present day – Chris about to collect a medal for bravery and struggling to do so, due to an injury from the war, and Imran finding out that an explosive device is somewhere nearby. We then flashback to the boys’ stories as they grow up and apart from each other, all the time leaving the reader wondering and worrying about how the present day scene will end when we get back to it.
It’s a cracking read, walking a dangerous tightrope but managing to stay completely balanced in its reporting of both sides of such a difficult subject matter.
And, let’s face it, most adults struggle to work out what is going on in our world when we turn on the television news, so I think this goes a long way towards explaining some of it to our children.
Highly recommended to children and to those with children too.