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The International Writers Magazine:Young Fiction

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli
London: Orchard Books, 2007.
ISBN: 978-1-84616-700-3
Anona Evans

Eggs is the tale of two complex and fragile children with painful pasts. Nine year old David has just lost his mother in a freak accident. He is angry and struggling to come to terms with his loss. David adopts a method to control his pain by forcing himself to follow every rule and by never allowing himself to witness another sunrise without his mother. He meets thirteen year old Primrose while she is pretending to be dead, during an ‘Easter Egg’ hunt.

Primrose is a wayward, independent girl with an absent father and a difficult mother. Primrose lives in a fantasy world and does exactly how she pleases. The two form an instant bond through their joint anger and instability but also through their very different ways of coping with that pain. Primrose breaks all the rules, crossing boundaries, while David is desperate to abide by them. Together, through their extraordinary relationship, the two manage to overcome their problems and realise that there is hope in each other.

Aimed at readers between the ages of 9 and 12, Eggs deals with themes of anger, disappointment, loss and rejection. The novel takes the reader on a literal and metaphorical journey through the two character’s difficulties and how they try to control and eventually overcome them.

It could be considered that a novel dealing with the relationship between two damaged children would be overly miserable and self indulgent and that, in turn, this would not appeal to children. However, the opposite occurs. From the beginning, Jerry Spinelli presents the reader with a colourful, dynamic, visually and emotionally stimulating novel.
The reader can, at once, identify with the two characters and their hopes and anxieties. The relationship between David and Primrose is portrayed in an extraordinarily honest and raw fashion. The novel’s strength lies in its simplicity, both in plot and literary style.

The dialogue effectively portrays the emotional instabilities and fears of the characters but also the humour. At some points, the dialogue is too stark and punchy and the chapters are very short. However, this would appeal to younger readers.

Eggs relies on its characterisation and although the plot is very thin, not offering anything in the way of excitement and adventure, which you would expect in a children’s book, this is actually effective in this novel as it heightens the relationship between David and Primrose. The book focuses on the inner growth of the characters, through their relationship, rather than outside events.

However, the most effective aspect of Eggs is the visual imagery and use of metaphors. The subtlety and simplicity of the novel is heightened by this, providing the novel with an almost dreamy, magical sense. The most obvious metaphor is that of eggs, which is a running motif throughout the book and is used to great effect in instances such as the time Primrose pretends to be dead and David sees her closed eyes as ‘tiny twin eggs,’ (Spinelli, 2007, p. 18). There is also the imagery connected with the emotional journey on which David and Primrose have embarked. This is portrayed through the imagery of train tracks and the lure of the city at the other end.

Eggs is a wonderful book and an effective novel for the age group. The colourful main characters are both compelling and humorous and children can relate to their feelings of confusion and of growing up in difficult circumstances. The novel oozes with hope and the power of friendships, portraying the most difficult of emotions in a subtle and heart warming way. Eggs doesn’t dwell on the pain, but focuses instead on the hope and beauty that can be found in other people, leaving a warm feeling in the reader’s stomach.

© Anona Evans May 2008

Anona is currently writing her own childrens novel whilst studying for her Masters at Portsmouth

Childrens Fiction


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