Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
Edward Bloor, London Calling

by Jerry Wright

London Calling
Author: Edward Bloor
Publisher: Knopf
Hardback: 304 pages
ISBN: 0375836357
Price: $16.95
London Calling is one of the most emotionally wrenching YA books I've had the pleasure to read in the past year. The character of Martin (JMartinC is his IM username) is as real as any kid I've run into recently. John Martin Conway hates his school, an expensive private school where he is a lowly "scholarship" kid, and the grandson of supposed hero "Howling Hank" Lowery is making his life a living hell.

This book is deeply spiritual, and a fantasy as well. Larry Niven feels that all time travel stories are fantasies, but in this story there are no scientific or pseudo-scientific trappings. A young boy from the past appears to Martin with a cry for help, and Martin is somehow transported to the past through the agency of an ancient Philco Radio, and Jimmy, his raggedy companion in World War II London, is a masterfully realized, albeit tragic, character.

Martin, of course, would rather this whole thing be a dream, because the alternative seems to be insanity. But when his "dreams" start giving him historically accurate answers about things he's never heard of, then all bets are off.

What genre would you say fits this novel? Hard to say, It incorporates Catholic mysticism steeped in Martin's faith and includes a present-day trip to London that connects Martin with his alcoholic absent father and an old man racked with guilt by the past.

There is much history here, and perhaps one might need to research where the facts leave off and Bloor's invention begins. The questions dealing with where the "real history of a time" comes from, and who creates what we later consider to be "facts", are well done and thought-provoking, especially for something supposedly written for middle-school children.

And finally, "What did YOU do to help?" -- The question that reverberates through this marvelous book is answered for Jimmy and Martin. Could it be answered for the reader?

Sorry for what seems like an excess of superlatives, but this is a superlative book.

Copyright © 2006 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

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