My parents ordered this book for me as a Christmas present on the 7th December. It didn’t come in time – remember all that snow? Days off school are nice, but a lot of gifts my family ordered for each other ended up being given in January :)
My birthday is in January (the 22nd, also known as Bloody Sunday for those of you interested in History), so my parents decided that no, I couldn’t have it as a late Christmas present, I had to wait until then. Most annoying. I did have plenty of other reading material, though.
When I was at concert rehearsals on my birthday, a few people came up to me and asked me what I was reading. I told them. They asked what it was about. On hearing that it was about “a guy who’s reached his forties without getting anywhere and is only turning his life around now that his teddy bear is telling him to”, they looked at me slightly oddly and asked if it was a children’s book.
“No,” I replied. “It’s an adult’s book.”
That only served to confuse them further.
Concert rehearsals were over and I read it in the car. After all, I’d already waited about four months to get hold of a copy because I didn’t pre-order. I get travel sick if I read in cars, but I managed it. Somehow. Not quite sure how. And then I was in Boots, queuing, and I was reading it in the queue. Just because if I’ve got a book, I will read it, no matter where I am – in the bath, on the bus, on the floor in the middle of the street, on the loo, under the quilt with a torch …
I got home and, as soon as birthday lunch was over, went into the living room and sat in the rocking chair with my brother’s ancient teddy (because it just happened to be lying around) on my lap, and I read the book. For about two hours. Or at least, I don’t know what time I started but I finished at around half three or something, and I got home at one-ish. So … yeah, probably about two hours, one and a half.
And then I’d finished it, and I had to wait for it to sink in before I could write this review. That’s what happens when you read books fast ;)
The thing about Paddytum is that it seems like it should be a kid’s book, but at the same time it’s too much filled with the real problems that adults, as much as young people, experience. It’s about realising you’ve wasted too much time – that you could have done more. That’s one of the reasons it’s so compelling.
It’s also unexpected. I mean, call me unobservant but I totally didn’t guess what was going to happen. A couple of things I made the links to, but others I didn’t have a clue, so they were a pleasant surprise. There are things that perhaps, when (there’s no ‘if’ about it) I go back to read it again, I’ll notice what I missed. But I think it’s nice not to notice the first time around.
It’s the sort of book that I would probably recommend to most people, because it doesn’t seem to fit into any particular genre. Most of my friends run away from my book suggestions, fearing hard sci-fi or some crazy book about dance. But this is sort of about family, sort of about growing up, and definitely about decisions. It’s about taking things into your own hands, because of somebody else. There’s romance. There’s everyday life. There’s mystery. Really, it’s a bit of everything.
The opportunity to talk to the author herself is something that I haven’t ignored :) We are both members of Protagonize, and it’s been great to talk to her about the book itself. There have been a few discussions there, too, which made me very jealous that I was still waiting for my copy – my parents wouldn’t let me pre-order it.
But it was worth it in the end.