Ceri’s Updates/Reviews (#34)

Hello! Today I’ll be reviewing an unusual book- Just Henry by Michelle Magorian. The book itself is not unusual, it is just very very unusual for me to read and ENJOY books like this. So here goes…

From the award-winning author of “Goodnight Mister Tom” comes “Just Henry”: a gripping mystery-thriller and an insightful snapshot of time, set in post-war Britain. It’s 1949 and life is bleak for Henry. He misses his father who died a war hero, and whenever he can he escapes from his annoying stepfather and stepsister by going to the cinema – his passion. One day in the cinema queue he meets Mrs Beaumont who also loves films, and lends Henry a camera for his school project. Henry is disgusted that he’s been put in a group with Jeffries, the son of an army deserter, and Pip, who was born illegitimate; but he’s about to learn that tolerance and friendship are more important than social stigmas, and Henry will need his new friends when he makes an alarming discovery. Like a bomb waiting to explode, Henry’s world is about to unravel.

I picked this up when I went on holiday three years ago because I had read Goodnight Mr Tom in school and was interested in what Magorian’s other books were like. I had been pleasantly surprised when Goodnight Mr Tom turned out to be a nice read so I wondered if Just Henry would be the same (the other books in the hotel looked dodgy as well).

Just Henry is about a teenage boy called Henry set around world war two. It features a lot of trips to the cinema and has a rather thrilling ending. That is all I can recall and there is no plot summary on Wikipedia to help me. I remember it taking me quite a while to get into the book, but with most books I have to read a couple of chapters to get into them. It makes sense because you have to get to know the characters first, also you can’t just launch straight into the action. Once I did get into Just Henry, I could not put it down. There was some sort of mystery that I HAD to solve/find out what happens. (I really hope I remember the right book…)

This book revolved around the cinema. Well the cinema definitely featured heavily in the novel. I liked this because I am a huge movie fan and enjoy frequent visits to the cinema. It was nice there was something simple and peaceful going on in the story amongst all of the turmoil. There was no sugar coating in the story, which I greatly appreciated; in stories I want to know the truth. It allowed me to learn more about that period of time and delve deeper into the story.

The only thing I remember disliking is that it was really long, it’s probably in the five longest books I’ve ever read. I’m not a fan of huge books- it puts me off reading them because it looks like too much effort. I don’t get why huge books aren’t split into two books, because that seems more approachable to me. Otherwise, it was a great book. It is very rare I find a book set in a different time, with virtually no romance that I like. Hats off to Michelle Magorian! I strongly recommend you read Just Henry, even if you think you won’t like it.

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