It is a cliché to say that a book will make you laugh and make you cry. This one did – embarrassingly I was on public transport on both occasions.
Becket lives with his dad and little brother Billy and up until the start of the book Pearl. Neither Becket nor Billy knows why they left home in the middle of the night or why their dad says they are not to try and find her. Their mum died giving birth to Billy and Becket feels that his life is a series of leavings without goodbyes. All he really has left of his mother is an armchair and when Billy cannot sleep they curl up in the chair and Becket tells stories of sailing the ocean in the armchair.
It is a story that deals with major issues that could have been over powering but Williamson manages to get the right touch of humour and sadness so that neither dominates the other. Throughout there is also a hint of peril, we can feel that something is not right but we have no idea what it can be. The ending was not what I expected at all, and all the more satisfying for that.
The characters came through very clearly, Becket and his classmates were particularly well drawn. They all demonstrated ways in which adults can mess up children’s minds even when meaning well. Billy will stay with me for a long time he was the most “random” child with a snail for a best friend who never failed to make me laugh with his strange logic.
An entertaining read with a serious and absorbing story at its heart.