Sunday, February 10, 2013
REVIEW: The Seeing by Diana Hendry
I'm not generally a fan of books set in historical time periods. The Seeing is a story about three children post-World War II and I can't say that I've read much, if anything, about this time period. But I found myself really interested as soon as I began reading, to see how much the war had played a part in these children's lives. I'd never considered that before and I do love when books make me think in ways that I hadn't previously.
Before I say very much about the story, can I just say that I really loved the format of this book. It's told in three points of view. A narrative voice from Lizzie, a young girl, who is feeling a bit lonely and wants a bit of excitement in her life, which she gets when she befriends Natalie one summer. There is also diary entries from Natalie, which show more of her emotional baggage and issues than we realise from Lizzie's perspective. And finally, there are letters written from an artist to his sister about the summer and his progress in painting the locals, including Lizzie, Natalie and Natalie's younger brother, Philip. Usually when a book is written in such a way, I find myself liking certain sections over others, but for each of these three perspectives, I was fascinated. There was some overlap between the narratives, but whenever that happened, it seemed to add a bit more dimension to the story.
I really think Diana Hendry did a wonderful job with the characters in this book. I could close my eyes and just see Lizzie, this normal girl from a good family living in this boring seaside town and wanting something to happen. She's still got that childhood innocence and naivety about her and when new girl, Natalie, shows up, all exciting and daring, Lizzie is drawn to her. There's just something wild about Natalie. But we can see as the story goes on that Natalie's wildness stems from a dark place - from the inattention of Natalie's mother, from the over-attention shown by the 'bastard uncles' that populate the house.
And together, Lizzie, Natalie and Philip turn this summer of kindred spirits and running wild into something really quite sinister. These three children have grown up during the war and now that it's peacetime, the three children are still struggling with what it all meant and about evil. Convinced that Philip can see what is in people's hearts, Natalie leads this hunt to root out Left-Over Nazis and to force them out of their homes and this town.
It was really interesting this book. There's so much about loss of innocence here and about the different ways of seeing, from Philip's psychic ability, to actual eyesight, and the sight that comes with imagination. I was amazed by how disturbed that I became while reading this book and my heart was in my mouth for the build-up to that final harrowing scene. The Seeing by Diana Hendry is a very powerful and emotional story, one that I'm quite glad to have read!