Review Blog

Aug 13 2008

Marty's shadow by John Heffernan

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Read by Stephen Pease
Louis Braille Audio, 2008. ISBN 9781742120355. 3 CDs, 3 3/4 hours.
Scholastic, 2007.
(Age 13+) Recommended. This is a finely wrought tale about 16 year old Marty, a loner, resentful and riddled with doubts and terrifying memories. Marty has the care of his young brother Jack, as the boys' father is often working away. Left to their own devices by a largely uncaring and neglectful father since their mother had left, the two boys look after each other. Marty however, increasingly finds that his life is unbearable as he fights to remember whether his dreams about what has happened at the old quarry are real or imagined.

Stephen Pease's wonderful reading recreates the voices of the solid and well-developed characters in an unforgettable story. Marty's angst and his descent into shadows come to life as he battles with eerie memories from the past. Jack, youthful and less damaged by his mother's departure, comes across as an optimistic and very likeable young boy. The angry and grim man who is Marty's father grips the imagination and leaves the listener in fear for the boys.

Heffernan skillfully introduces his refugee family in the story giving Nariah a central role in befriending Marty and helping him to realise that his love of trees and skill with plants is worthwhile. Pease's reading brings an extra resonance to the listener's understanding of what it is like to be newcomers in town and to be subjected to prejudice and harassment.

This audio pack would be a welcome addition to a library collection for its powerful and unforgettable story. It should also have appeal for reluctant readers.
Pat Pledger

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