Monday, 5 September 2011

Without Looking Back by Tabitha Suzuma

I used to be called Louis Whittaker, he thought to himself. I had a sister called Millie and a brother called Max. I used to live in a big house in Paris. I used to speak French every day. None of this is true anymore...
Louis is a young Parisian with a lot on his plate - his parents are locked in a custody battle over him and his brother and sister, Mum is always working late and Dad is rarely allowed to visit. But his passion and talent for dancing and his friends at school mean that life in Paris is good and certainly not one he ever thought he'd be forced to leave behind. So when Dad suddenly whisks Louis and his siblings away on a surprise holiday to England, right in the middle of the school term, he isn't too thrilled, especially as Dad is acting strangely again. Why is he being so secretive and paranoid - could it be he has not fully recovered from his mental breakdown? The rented farmhouse in the Lake District is nice, but why is Dad furnishing it and why won't he let them call home? Then Louis comes across a poster - a missing person's poster. And it has his face on it...

Suzuma is definitely becoming one of my favourite authors. This is the second book of hers that I have read, and although I preferred the other one a little bit more, I still utterly loved this one. The thing I really like about her books is that she deals with topics that we all know and think about, but barely ever read about - well, in teenage books, anyway. This novel was about a depressed father taking his three children away from France to Paris after he lost the custordy battle with his ex-wife. From the beginning, the reader knows about them being abducted, and for the first half of the book you are just sat waiting for one of them to find out. And they do halfway through the story, just like I said - which confused me. All I could think of was, what is going to happen for the rest of the book? I don't want to spoil what happens, but I thought it was an excellent twist to what I was expecting, and the ending was fantastic - again, totally unexpected but perfect. Suzuma shows in this novel that situations like these are far more complicated than we can understand, and she shows this so beautifully. As you read, you really become attatched to the characters of Louis, Max and Millie - and even their kidnapping Father. At the end I could feel tears welling up in m eyes , and I just wish there had been one more chapter, because it kind of ends on a cliffhanger. You want to find out what happens to the family - do they get caught, or do they get away with it? What does Max do when he hits sixteen? What does Louis do when he hits sixteen? However, a sequel just wouldn't be good for this book - it is so amazing and moving as it is. My praise for Suzuma is endless and I hope to read some of her other books in the future.

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