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Luke and Jon by Robert Williams

Luke and Jon (2010)

by Robert Williams

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9713187,563 (3.78)3



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On the 11th April, at 4.27pm, thirteen-year-old Luke’s mother is killed in a car crash and his life changes in an instant. Immersed in grief and a whisky bottle, his now near-silent father stops paying the household bills and, by the early summer, their home has been re-possessed. After all the debts have been paid, the only house they can afford is a remote, neglected cottage on a fellside above a scruffy northern town; it is here, away from everything familiar, that they must try to create a future for themselves.
Soon after moving in Luke meets Jon, a boy of the same age who lives close by, in an even more ramshackle house, with his frail, elderly grandparents. Wearing clothes more suited to the 1950s, with a side-parting in his hair and an almost obsessional habit of amassing facts and figures, Jon appears quite eccentric but, both outsiders, the two boys soon strike up a friendship. Luke becomes aware that Jon is keeping a secret and, when he discovers what it is, their friendship becomes pivotal in changing their lives.
I found this a beautifully written and very moving story about bereavement, mourning, the power of family and friendship, bullying and the struggles faced by characters who are trying to rebuild lives shattered by loss. The author’s acute observations of the many, and changing, faces of grief felt entirely credible and I soon found myself drawn into the lives of the characters as they each found ways to deal with their feelings of pain and grief. I liked the fact that rather than dividing the story into formal chapters, the author used frequent headings (sometimes a couple per page, sometimes one every two or three pages) to move the story forward in a convincing fashion. As the story is told in Luke’s voice, the narrative was given an immediacy which effectively captured not only his emotional journey, but also those of his father and of Jon. I loved the fact that each of the characters found a different way of dealing with his demons: Luke through his paintings, his father through sculpting with wood and Jon through immersing himself in books. I think that the author effectively showed how these activities were used, initially as defences and, ultimately, as ways of being able to move forward.
There is absolutely nothing sentimental about this story; the pain described is raw and powerful but the holding out of hope, and the restorative nature of love are evoked in an equally powerful way. The writing is made more effective by the fact that it is so restrained, with barely a word feeling unnecessary. This was marketed as a novel for young adults, but its psychological integrity means that it is a story which will appeal to a much wider readership – it’s a remarkable debut novel. ( )
  linda.a. | Mar 2, 2019 |
This moving book is narrated by Luke, whose mother has died in a car crash and who moves to a remote place in the north to a ramshackle house. A boy called on turns up at his door and the two become friends. Meanwhile Luke's dad, who makes wooden toys, hits the bottle - but is saved when he decides to sculpt an enormous wooden horse!
This book is very simply written and is a quick read - and would be good for YAs - but is touching and amusing. It is really nicely written and very enjoyable. Sad and bittersweet at times. ( )
  AHouseOfBooks | Jan 27, 2016 |
This novel had me absolutely riveted for the first two-thirds of its story. Donald, the young main character of How the Trouble Started, is utterly engaging. His emotional and intellectual journey towards understanding the events that occurred when he was essentially a toddler is a compelling and brutally honest one. The realities that he experiences as a consequence of his own actions are heartbreaking and resonant even when you grasp the horror of "the trouble." It is this resonance that breaks your heart and mind wide open as you glimpse emotion and struggle that you recognize as it is experienced through the eyes of an overgrown child who has had no support in dealing with his own life. As poor and questionable as his choices and acts are he is still worthwhile and knowable and this aspect of the novel shakes the reader to the core.

And then we come to the last third of the novel. It feels as if the writer either ran out of steam or was told to keep it short as he barrels his way towards an incoherent, incomplete, and inconsistent resolution marring the effect of an otherwise brilliant novel. Definitely worth the read, but be forewarned. There be dragons. ( )
  kraaivrouw | Dec 5, 2012 |
Thought provoking.

I enjoyed this Young Adult book but, for me, it never quite hit the mark. The premise was great - something momentous happened when Donald was eight years old, which had repercussions on the rest of his life.

We only gradually discover what this momentous event was, even Donald has a problem remembering clearly, after all, he was only eight. As a result the family moves from the area and Donald finds himself a bit of a loner.

He tries to atone for his part in 'the trouble' but his solution is not socially acceptable, even though his motives are pure.

This was definitely a thought provoking novel but the ending was a bit unsatisfying and I was left feeling that something was missing.

In spite of my reservations, I do feel that this would be a good book to engender class room discussion about responsibility and the effects of one's actions on others. ( )
  DubaiReader | May 21, 2012 |
Luke has just moved to a remote wreck of a house with his father following the death of his mother in a motor accident. Both thirteen year old Luke and his young father are having difficulty coming to terms with the loss. Shortly after settling into their new home Jon turns up at their door, a neighbour and the same age as Luke he has come to say hello. Luke and Jon soon become good friends despite Jon's odd manner and strange outdated dress, and Luke learns they have more in common than living on Bowland Fell, they have both lost a parent.

However, when they start school together at the end of the summer holidays Luke sees the reality of Jon's odd ways. But is Luke, a sensitive boy and an able budding artist, strong enough to do what he knows is right? And will Luke's father get himself back together after the loss of his wife?

Luke and Jon is a touching story of the power of friendship. While Luke relates the story of his growing relationship with Jon he frequently looks back to his recent loss, and tires to come to terms with it. It is touching, heart warming and positive; a well written and very accessible story that should appeal to all ages. ( )
  presto | Apr 24, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571249639, Paperback)

Luke's mum is dead. He finds himself in a small, scruffy northern hill town, with a near silent father, who he fears might be trying to drink himself to death. Then he meets Jon. Jon is massively strange. He wears 1950s clothes, has a side-parting and a twitch. The kids at school call him 'Slackjaw'. When Luke discovers his secret, Jon changes his life in more ways than he can imagine. Luke and Jon is a coming of age novel about family, bereavement and how lives can change forever in a single second. Written with great power, warmth and humour, it signals a hugely engaging and original new voice. Compelling and emotionally acute, it is a unique debut.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Luke's mum is dead. He finds himself in a small, scruffy northern hill town, with a near silent father, who he fears might be trying to drink himself to death. Then he meets Jon. Jon is massively strange. He wears 1950s clothes, has a side-parting and a twitch. The kids at school call him 'Slackjaw'.… (more)

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