Thursday, 21 April 2011

Review: A Hopscotch Summer by Annie Murray

Publisher: MacMillian
UK Publication Date: 1st May 2009
Pages: 400
Source: Local Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis from:

Emma Brown is a happy-go-lucky child, content to work hard at school, and to play hopscotch with her friends on the pavement outside her house in the run-down Nechells area of Birmingham. As long as everything is alright at home with her Ma and Pa, her little sister Joyce and brother Sid, then life is good. But after Em’s mother Cynthia has her baby she just doesn’t seem to be able to cope. Her life-long friend and neighbour Dot helps as much as she can, but she has children of her own, and no man to hand; Cynthia’s husband Bob, too, does his best, but begins to feel that he’s losing the wife he has loved so much; and little Em just can’t find enough hours in the day to do all the washing and cleaning. Soon, it seems, the only thing is for Cynthia to go and stay across the city with her tyrannical older sister.

With Cynthia away, life only gets harder for Em. Her best friend Kate ostracizes her, leaving only poor, stinky Molly Fox at her side, and when the Board Man comes to call, wanting to know why she’s not at school, things are really bad. When Bob stays out later and later in the evenings, always the worse for wear, and spending too much time with a local very merry widow, Em decides to travel across Birmingham to fetch her mother home, but the mother she discovers is a far cry from the proud, upright and loving figure she has known so well . . .


Being an avid reader of Annie Murray I couldn't wait to read this book, so when it appeared in my local library I knew I had to have it. Annie Murray has again created another outstanding novel. From the first page I was instantly drawn into the world of Emma Brown and her friends, Molly Fox and Katie O'Neill.

Out of all the characters in this book I found myself drawn to Emma and her friend Molly Fox. My heart went out to little Emma as she had to grow up fast. When Emmas' mother, Cynthia Brown, gave birth to Violet things in the Brown household started to change. Cynthia develop a severe case of depression which caused her to, first, being sent to live with her sister Olive, and then being sent to HollyMoor Aslyum. It was at this point that Emma had to give up school and stay at home to do everything. Emma also had to come to terms with the fact that her father, Bob Brown, had started a relationship with the local merry widow, Flossie Dawson.

Where Emma was popular, Molly Fox was the outcast. Molly was the only daughter of Iris and Joe Fox, and had problems of her own. Molly had to face hardships of her. Not only was she being bullied at school, but she was also having to face the abuse that she was subjected to at home from both her mother and her grandfather. It was due to these problems that a bond stated to form between Molly and Emma.

Annie Murray has a way of creating characters that are highly believe able and love able. There were times when I would find myself laughing and crying at the same time.I highly recommend A Hopscotch Summer to fans of historical fiction. A Hopscotch Summer is the first book in a trilogy and I cannot wait to read the others.

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