Secret Heart by David Almond
David Almond’s books are strange, unsettling, wild things – unfettered by the normal restraints of children’s literature. It is hard to say with any certainty what age group they are for; they are, like all great literature, beyond classification. In the village of Helmouth (a nasty, brutish place), Almond’s hero Joe Maloney is an outcast, an untamed child who doesn’t know the things he is supposed to know or think the thoughts that he is supposed to think. Teachers and truant officers despair of him; other children, intent on growing up tough, bully him; his mother simply loves him. Then the circus comes to town. In Corinna, who flies through the air, and Nancy Solo, who is blind but can see into people’s hearts, Joe finds kindred souls. An exhilarating though not always easy read for anyone who, like Joe, has tigers and larks in their hearts.
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