Matthew suffers from OCD. A debilitating condition which leaves him unable to leave his room and with the urge to clean everything. This leaves him spending most of his time looking out of his bedroom window. Before long he is taking note of every last movement of his neighbours, so when Tommy, an infant staying on the close, goes missing on the street, Matthew becomes key to unraveling the mystery.
One of the joys of this book is the way in which the mystery unfolds. Through Matthew’s observations, we get an intimate view of the people who live on the close. Slowly but surely, more and more is revealed as plot after sub-plot is introduced. In fact, reading the story is like a game of pass the parcel – layer after layer is peeled off with anticipation until the finale is reached.
The characters themselves are fantastic. By the end, the reader will understand what makes each character tick and build an emotional connection with many of them. My favourite being Melody – the girl next door who becomes Matthew’s assistant during his investigation. Like all of the other neighbours, she has a unique background filled with her own issues: she doesn’t fit in at school and spends an unhealthy amount of time in a graveyard. It’s hard not to fall in love with her quirky personality, enthusiasm and compassionate nature.
It is excellent to see mental health issues being raised in a children’s book. The way which Matthew’s narrative reveals both his condition and the effect it has on his family works on many levels, making this book ideal for younger readers through to teenagers and adults. This is definitely a thought-provoking and rewarding read.
Age recommendation: 9+
Paperback: 400 pages