Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Kestrel for a Knave - Barry Hines - Casper the friendly

Advantages: Perhaps an eye-opener

Disadvantages: None it is a great read

I haven't bothered to do a "My All Time Favourite Books" list yet, but when I do get round to it, this will be positioned in the upper reaches somewhere. 

A Kestrel for a Knave, was written by Barry Hines, and published in 1968. It is set in Barnsley, and tells the story of Billy Casper, a working class schoolboy. It is clear from the narrative that he comes from a home where the father is absent, his brother, Jed is a bit of a bully and he takes his troubles from home, to school - it seems that something is always on his mind as he cannot concentrate at school - it would seem he is not interested, the simple fact is that no-one seems interested in him. 

Billy, appropriates a book and from it learns about birds of prey. He chances upon a kestrel which he rears and this gets him some positive attention from a schoolmaster for a change. It is sometimes too easy to review a book by telling the story, which spoils things somewhat for the reader, so I will go no further with the story. 

At face value this is a story of the sadness of working class life 'up-north' and how one young man copes with it. There are many other readings to this book though and I highly recommend it.

Summary: A sad read in places

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