Clay by David Almond.
Released on July 25, 2006.
David Almond returns to his themes of faith and amazing creatures in his new book. Davie is a Catholic boy who fights with the Protestant kids living nearby. Their battles have gone on for generations in the community. He and his best friend, Geordie have a hideout in a quarry that they continually add new defenses to and an archenemy named Mouldy. But when a new boy, Stephen Rose comes to town, Davie’s world changes. Stephen can create life-like features out of clay and spends much of his days sitting in a shed in the garden creating Apostle figures. Davie does not want to befriend Stephen, but is slowly drawn into the weird life that Stephen has created with his mentally ill aunt. As time goes by, Davie begins to believe that he and Stephen have special powers and that they may even be able to create life.
The book is filled with questions of right and wrong and good and evil that are not easy for Davie or readers to answer. It is a complex blend of reality and miracles where what has really happened seems to shift and change as the story weaves on. The language is both straight-forward and lyrical at the same time, adding to the tension in the book. This is a perfect book for discussions, because so much of the story can be interpreted either literally or spiritually. I always appreciate a book that doesn’t give young readers easy answers. This is the sort of book that is a perfect introduction to complex literature.
All of that said, I am not sure it will be an easy sell to young adults. This will be one that will have to be hand-sold or introduced into discussions. It would make a great booktalk for teens, especially if you leave them dangling about the story line. So, read this one yourself, share it with the sophisticated readers in your community, and see how many you can hook with a good booktalk.