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06 March 2007 @ 07:43 am
David Almond's CLAY (4.5 stars)  
Winning of the Printz Award for his young adult novel KIT'S WILDERNESS and nominated for the Printz with his first novel SKELLIG, David Almond has delivered CLAY, another quality story that has made the ALA's 2007 Best Books for Young Adults list.

The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. ~ Genesis 2:7

Thirteen-year-old Davie and Geordie serve as altar boys under the tutelage of Father O'Mahoney, receiving tips for grieving at funerals and help out wherever needed at the masses. Like all good altar boys, they crave adventure and live in fear of the town bully. Noticing this and trying to stretch their souls to a little goodness, O'Mahoney challenges them to befriend the weirdest kid in their English countryside town. "He just needs a few mates." "From the very start, he had a good heart."

If one were looking, Stephen Rose could be found in the garden staring at the moon. Howling in the shed. Carrying lumps of clay around in the graveyard. He lives with Crazy Mary because his mother is crackers, his father's dead, and his granddad's wild. Which might not be nowt serious if that's all it was. But there are the rumors too. Black Masses. Upside-down crosses. Black candles. The "Our Father" backwards. Dark things in dark places.

There but for the grace of God...

As David and Geordie get to know Stephen, they quickly learn that dust and wood isn't enough for Stephen to do the Lord's work--Stephen needs clay. He has the amazing gift of sculpting, the ability to turn common mud into astounding images. He sees art in the clay. He sees life there. Ever since the angel visited him, he says he's longed to do something special with his life, to rise above the ordinary and create something lasting, something people will remember him for. Which might end up a noble enough cause, if things don't get out of hand.

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emohawk9000 on March 7th, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC)
I'm soooo glad you liked CLAY. I think it really got the shaft in terms of recognition last year. I adore the fact that it's so minimal and yet so....creepy.

I got to read this in and around the area where it's set, which only added to the creepiness.
The Blog of Author Jonathan Stephensjonstephens on March 7th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
Creepy is definitely a word for it. So well-done. And so bliddy British!