'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 15 December 2018

Review: Lenny's Book of Everything

Eleven-year-old Lenny Spink narrates this mesmerising novel about love, letting go, acceptance, grief and healing, the importance of family and the value of life. 

Told in an electrifying original style in a voice full of confidence, it generously offers in minute detail, Lenny’s daily observations and thoughts. These are built on the life shared for a short time, with her young brother Davey.  

Lenny’s father left when Davey was five years old.  The sounds of his leaving are all that remain. This does not stop her from thinking of him constantly, sometimes with anger, others with deep pain and longing. At the same time, Davey starts growing and doesn’t stop.

With an absent father, a constantly worried mother that works two jobs to keep the ever-growing Davey in shoes and clothes, there is one shining light in their life. It is the weekly edition of Burrell’s Build-It-at-Home Encyclopaedia won in a competition. This keeps the siblings occupied and hungry for the next exquisite volume of knowledge whose contents become their daily bread.

A brain tumour is causing Davey’s accelerated growth. The encyclopaedic editions sustain them through the challenging months that remain for them as a family. They also allow Davey to explore the world he will never experience.

Positioning the alphabetised volumes in a leading role gives opportunity for a wealth of information to pour through each chapter. This plaits together the issues of the character’s personal lives – even those that play a minor role, and the things they are reading about in Burrell’s, to create a strong and unbroken thread that weaves in and out of Foxlee’s outstanding prose.

The superb letters exchanged between Cindy Spink and Martha Brent, Burrell’s General Sales Manager, depict the shift and change in relationships between the characters whose radiant profiles depict human strengths and weaknesses, their secrets and secret desires.

This novel blew me away! It is a work of singular brilliance. Let this be another book that readers make a must read before the year is out.
Title: Lenny’s Book of Everything
Author: Karen Foxlee
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $19.99
Publication Date: 24 October 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760528706
For ages: 12+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

Pop by again on the 18 December to discover what Karen Foxlee is reading now in our Look What I'm Reading! feature.