2017 was a superb year for children’s literature. Established authors produced some outstanding books, but, for me, 2017 was about discovering new authors. One of the outstanding breakthroughs of 2017 was Lisa Thompson’s Goldfish Boy, a whodunnit seen through the eyes of a teenager with OCD. It was a captivating read which shed light on mental health issues for children.
Now as 2018 begins, the year of books has begun with a bang. January has already seen a handful of books which promise to become modern classics, including Lisa Thompson’s follow up to Goldfish Boy – The Light Jar.
The books begins with Nate and his mum leaving home in the middle of the night. Eventually, they arrive in a run-down cottage. This is to be their new home for the foreseeable future. It is damp, dirty and desolate. As Nate begins to adapt to his new home, his mum pops out to the shop. She doesn’t return, leaving Nate to fend for himself.
Soon Nate rediscovers his childhood imaginary friend, Sam. Together they reminisce about the good (and bad) times from the past. Slowly but surely, Nate’s troubled past is revealed to the reader. This is where Lisa Thompson’s skill shines through. There’s a divorce, family feuds and a controlling step-father. In each case, Thompson presents these in an accessible way which will strike a chord with children.
At the same time, Nate meets the mysterious Kitty. She lives nearby and is determined to solve a decades old treasure hunt. Together they set about solving the mystery. This intriguing mystery is the perfect counter-balance to Nate’s history. Thompson keeps a rapid pace which keeps the reader guessing and wanting to find out more.
If Goldfish Boy was Thompson’s breakthrough, The Light Jar cements her place as one of the most innovative writers currently around. Once again, deep issues are dealt with sensitively, while the main plot keeps the reader hooked. Ultimately, it is a book about hope, about succeeding against the odds and about never giving up. A great start to my 2018 reading!
Age Recommendation: 9+
Paperback: 240 pages