I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
‘Read this and feel young again’ – Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride
‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did
‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas
I was sent a digital copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Gail! I am writing this review on behalf of Rosie Amber’s book review team #RBRT.
This Much Huxley Knows is Gail Aldwin’s second contemporary novel and is written in first person perspective from the point of view of Huxley, a seven year old boy living in the outskirts of London during the Brexit period. His world revolves around his parents, school, church, swimming and play dates with his friend Ben. He occasionally hears things he shouldn’t when the adults are talking, assuming he is not within earshot, and he often repeats things he has heard at the most inappropriate times and to the wrong people!
Huxley is quirky and likeable with a talent for making longer words into shorter expressions, which entertains him immensely. For example “sensible” becomes “sent-a-ball” but this talent can be wearing on his parents. Sometimes these word games are more apposite than he realizes: Brexit becomes “Breaks It”.
Through his eyes we experience the casual racism often expressed by Brexiteers such as Ben’s grandmother, his fear of bullying, the contemporary political issues and the fear of strangers felt by all parents in this day and age in a charming and engaging manner. I really enjoyed Huxley’s black and white take on the world around him. Sometimes we need to take a step back and see the world through the innocence of a child’s eyes.
About the Author
Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin’s debut coming-of-age novel The String Games was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020. Following a stint as a university lecturer, Gail’s children’s picture book Pandemonium was published. Gail loves to appear at national and international literary and fringe festivals. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset.
For more information about the thought behind the settings in This Much Huxley Knows please check out this guest post by author Gail Aldwin, hosted by Cathy Ryan on her blog: