The International Writers Magazine:Young Adult Books: Review
by Sue Mayfield
Paperback 192 pages (January 5, 2006)
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
A Lucy Bailey Review
harrowing tale of love and loss and scars that are more than skin-
deep. So achingly accurate is this description of the wonderful
novel that is Damage, that I am tempted to sit down
and read the whole book again.
The novel tells
the story of four friends; Becci, Matt, Sophie and Nathan, who are involved
in a fatal car crash on the way home from a party. It is written from
the point of view of eleven (yes eleven) narrators, and charts how these
characters deal with the conflicting emotions which they are experiencing
in the aftermath of the accident.
The characters within the novel are wonderfully written, each a distinct
individual, each with their own values and opinions. It makes a refreshing
change for an author to bring some reality into a book aimed at children,
even if it is not what the reader wants to hear. For instance, when
questioned about his dead brother Nathan, Jack says; It was
bad enough when he was alive
.I didnt cry at the funeral,
not bloody likely. These characters are honest, sometimes
painfully so, whether you like it or not.
On her website, Mayfield suggests that the reason she wrote Damage,
was, in part, due to the number of roadside bouquets which she had seen.
Every one of them tells a story. Each person commemorated is someones
child or parent, someones brother or sister, someones friend.
Damage delves deeply into this idea, probing the characters
and coming up with a mixed bag of emotions, ranging from the obvious;
grief, anger and hatred, to the unexpected; jealousy, forgiveness and
I would be lying if I said that this book was a comfortable read. It
is thought provoking, certainly, but in no way is it easy. At times
it is harrowing, particularly the vivid description of the crash and
its bloody aftermath which shocked even me. This begs the question;
what effect would it have on the young adults who it is aimed at? I
would suggest a very positive one.
This novel is not just a depressing representation of the hurt which
a tragedy causes to those involved and their families, it is a thoughtful,
beautiful account of how grief can tear people apart and put them back
together again. It is hopeful, something which is so important in a
novel like this, and I feel that there is a lesson to be learnt by everyone
that reads it, whether it involves learning to forgive, excepting the
past, admitting that accidents can happen to anyone or simply resolving
to drive more carefully and cherish your loved ones.
Damage certainly made me sit back and reassess life,
an amazing feat for a childrens novel to accomplish, and I would
recommend it to everyone, young and old. It is essentially a warning
that life really is fragile, and that you should never, not for one
moment, take for granted how much your loved ones really mean to you,
because one day they might be taken away and then it will be too late.
© Lucy Bailey Feb 2006
innocenteyes_1986 at hotmail.com
Lucy Bailey is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
Children's Book Reviews
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