Saturday, February 16, 2008

Review: Judith Clarke - Night Train

Nightrain, by Judith Clarke, is one of the of the saddest and most depressing books I've ever read - but I still love itv I'm yet to find anything else that talks so openly and honestly about how hard life can really be. The book beings with the funeral of the protagonist, Luke, as told from the point of view of his two sisters: Naomi, 5, and Molly, 16. Naomi's account especially draws you emotionally in the story from the beginning.

We see that Luke is troubled from the onset, skipping school, expelled twice, failing all his subjects, Luke appears from the outside to be your stereotypical 'troubled kid' who just doesn't care about anything. From the inside we see that Luke is troubled in a different way. He's having trouble managing everyday things, and is obviously struggling from undiagnosed depression.

The action of the book only takes place over a couple of days, as Luke struggles to try and finish an assignment for the one teacher who still has faith in him, and deal with the threat of being expelled from school. The book shows not only his problems, but also how everyone around him is affected by them. Luke's sisters, his mother, his girlfriend and his english teacher all have POV chapters, and we watch them struggle to understand Luke, and deal with the impact he has on their own lives.

The book is largely about confusion and lack of communication. Luke knows that something is wrong with him, but can't express it to anyone else. Similarly, the other characters know he is troubled, but everyone is at a loss for what to do about it.

The two people who stand out particularly strongly are Naomi, his sister, and Dan, his father. Naomi is an ideal viewpoint character because we all naturally have empathy for little kids, but no-one really talks about them. People tend to forget that kids are smarter than they look, and know more than they look, so Naomi's reactions to Luke's situation is particularly powerful. Through her telling we hear about how worried she get when Lukie doesn't come home, and how she has to close all the gates on their street - or something bad will happen to him.

Dan is noticeable for his absence for most of the book. Disappointed in his son's luck of progress during his second attempt at the HSC, Dan stops talking to or about his son. This bothers not only Luke, understandably, but also Margret - who is feeling completely out of control of both her children. Dan's viewpoint is similarly absent during most of the book - it's only at the end, when we get a glimpse of how things might just turn out ok, that he gets a chance to express himself too us - and we learn that he really does care about Luke, and tries to make things right.
The book draws you in by showing you the pain and suffering off all the characters, then gives you hope towards the end that everything will turn out ok. You know that it won't because the beginning of the book told you so, but it's a statement about the power of hope that you still want it to anyway. To me, this book has always been a hopeful book, despite the sad ending, because it's a sign that things often aren't as bad as they look - and that you better make the most of the them because you never know when they will be gone.

Labels: , , , ,


At August 31, 2015 at 3:36 AM , Blogger Jazzy Nonol said...

I love this book tho I haven't finish it yet.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]