Sunday, 15 January 2012

A Kestrel for a Knave

Title: A Kestrel for a Knave

Author: Barry Hines

Number of pages: 160

Started: 13 January 2012

Finished: 15 January 2012

Opening words:

There were no curtains up. The window was a hard edged block the colour of the night sky. Inside the bedroom the darkness was of a gritty texture. The wardrobe and bed were blurred shapes in the darkness. Silence.

Plot summary:

Billy Casper is a boy with nowhere to go and nothing to say; part of the limbo generation of school leavers too old for lessons and too young to know anything about the outside world. He hates and is hated. His family and friends are mean and tough and they're sure he's going to end up in big trouble. But Billy knows two things about his own world. He'll never work down the mines and he does know about animals. His only companion is his kestrel hawk, trained from the nest, and, like himself, trained but not tamed, with the will to destroy or to be destroyed. This in not just another book about growing up in the north - it's as real as a slap in the face to those who think that orange juice and comprehensive schools have taken the meanness out of life in the raw working towns.

What I thought:

This is the kind of book I was forced to read when I was at school. I would have hated it. But, now it had somewhat of a different effect on me. Despite its brevity, it was quite an enchanting book – perhaps a strange word to use given the hard life that it conveys. But it sucked me into the life of a teenage boy who finds and tames a kestrel. It was a brief, but good read – and I am so glad I never had to read it at school.

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