“On days like this, I sneak off to my cubbyhole behind the bicycle stand. School rules say I’m not allowed there but I don’t care. It’s best to hide when no one wants to be friends.”
– This Much Huxley Knows
[ About the Book ]
‘I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.’
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
[ My Review ]
This Much Huxley Knows by Gail Aldwin was published by Black Rose Writing July 7th and is described as ‘a story of innocence, misunderstandings, and acceptance’. Previously, Gail Aldwin wrote a guest post for my blog entitled ‘What the hell is word wangling?’ where she explains how she managed to get into the mind of a seven year old boy.
‘The initial seed of an idea for This Much Huxley Knows came from wanting to write about the value of intergenerational friendship.’ – Gail Aldwin
Huxley is a young boy with few friends. He doesn’t play football and often finds himself alone in the school yard. In an attempt to make people laugh he breaks up words and pronounces them differently, making a guessing game for folk. His behaviour, at times, alienates him from his peers so when an older disabled man pays him attention, Huxley is immediately interested. Leonard is living alone in sheltered accommodation. He uses a mobility scooter to get around and has recently moved in to the area. He gently befriends Huxley but when Huxley’s parents become aware of this friendship their hackles are immediately raised. Why would an older man make friends with a young boy? Who is this stranger in their midst? They warn Huxley to stay away from him but Huxley can’t help being attracted to a friendship with this man. Leonard, in Huxley’s eyes, is just a lonely, sad old man looking for a friend. The innocence of his age shines through with his inability to see the dangers that adults see.
As an only child Huxley craves a sibling and looks longingly at others who have a brother or sister to play with. His parents are caught up in all that adulting entails and sometimes Huxley feels lost, friendless but Leonard makes him feel good about himself. Why can’t he be friends with Leonard?
Huxley views the world differently. He sees his community changing, with bullying youths stalking the locality. Huxley is unafraid of these lads with his own very strong ideas about right and wrong. When he sees Leonard being attacked with oranges. Huxley is outraged. But his parents and some of their friends see things very differently.
This Much Huxley Knows is a snapshot of our society today as seen through the eyes of a seven year old boy. He understands things in black and white and can’t fathom the complexities behind adults decisions. He is a very curious little boy and sometimes this can get him into trouble. But Huxley is a determined little man and he just plods along getting by in his own simplistic way. With a loveable rogue that will pull at your heartstrings, This Much Huxley Knows is a warm and amusing tale written with a very perceptive pen.
[ Bio ]
Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin’s debut coming-of-age novel The String Games was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020. Following a stint as a university lecturer, Gail’s children’s picture book Pandemonium was published. Gail loves to appear at national and international literary and fringe festivals. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset.
Twitter ~ https://twitter.com/gailaldwin
Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/gailaldwinwriter/
Blog ~ https://gailaldwin.com