4 Minutes Reading Time
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
“An emotional story that will leave readers meditating on the life-saving magic of kindness.” –IndieReaderGail Aldwin. This Much Huxley Knows (Kindle Locations 46-47). Black Rose Writing. Kindle Edition.
Print Length: 217 pages
Text-to-Speech | Screen Reader | Enhanced Typesetting | Word Wise | Lending
Publication Date: 8 July 2021
Categories: British Contemporary Literature | Friendship Fiction | Coming of Age Fiction
Trigger Warnings: Deity Swears
Gail Aldwin, a British writer, has worked in many countries like Australia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, and Spain. Gail also volunteered at a refugee centre in Bidibi, Uganda. She writes novels, short fiction, and poetry. But she is also part of 3-She, a group of women writers, creating short plays and comedy sketches.
Her short fiction collection Paisley Shirt was long-listed in the Saboteur Awards for 2018. And her debut novel, The String Games, was a finalist in the People’s Book Prize 2020 and became shortlisted in the Dorchester Literary Festival writing prize in 2020. Gail’s first children picture book Pan de mo nium, was published in December 2020.
This Much Huxley Knows tells the story of seven-year-old Huxley Griffith and his daily life. He is an ordinary boy, a single child, growing up in a happy home. But, like all couples, his parents also have disagreements, making him feel sad because of the break-it in their friendship.
His mother is friends with his friend Ben’s mother. They often take the boys to the park or swimming, or Huxley and his mom will go and visit Ben’s house.
And then there is Leonard. Huxley sees him as a friend, but his parents don’t want to know anything. Leonard is disabled and rides a scooter, but because of the things he says and giving the children sweets, the parents don’t trust him.
But Huxley’s dad saves Leonard from a fire started by older boys. Only then do they realise that Leonard means no harm and allow Huxley to visit him.
In many ways, Huxley is not an ordinary seven-year-old. He is pretty wise for his years and has a unique perspective on many things. He is sensitive to other people’s feelings and compassionate.
Like all boys, he also gets into trouble, but we can gather that this is not always intentional from the way he thinks. And most of the time, he only means well.
What did I like?
You can’t help to love Huxley. Reading this book brings back fond memories of my childhood. Isn’t it amazing how similar our childhood experiences often are, even though we all grow up in different families, neighbourhoods, and even countries?
Huxley is a bright boy with a vivid imagination. He can already read silently and write sentences for homework and in class. But what I love most about Huxley is his love for words. I love the language the author uses when speaking for Huxley. Like this example:
This makes me think of something funny and there are bubbles of laughter in my chest.Gail Aldwin. This Much Huxley Knows (Kindle Locations 1718-1719). Black Rose Writing. Kindle Edition.
Huxley loves to play with words and sounds, creating variations that adults do not always understand. And even though some of these words seem a bit naughty, Huxley uses them as jokes because he loves to make people laugh.
How can you not enjoy clever creations like:
- Rip-you-station (reputation)
- Lip-bee-dough (libido)
- Silly-balls (syllables)
- Stink-you-baking (stimulating)
- Dizzy-proves (disapproves)
- Wreck-on-silly-station (reconciliation)
- And so many more!
And not so much?
It is sad to see how sometimes children have so much more wisdom and insight than adults. We see this from this Huxley thought while lying in bed one night:
It’s not very safe in our town for old people. I better be friendly with every old person to make up for it.Gail Aldwin. This Much Huxley Knows (Kindle Location 1792 – 1793). Black Rose Writing. Kindle Edition.
Despite Leonard being disabled and attending church, the adults are quick to distrust him when he tries to make friends with the kids because he is lonely. And primarily based on misunderstanding something Huxley said in the context of a conversation.
But eventually, it turns out that Huxley’s instincts were right, and he is allowed to become friends with Leonard. The parents show Leonard the actions and things he says that can cause people not to trust him.
Should you read it?
I do recommend This Much Huxley Knows. I think there are very few readers who wouldn’t enjoy this book. Huxley is genuine and authentic and gives us a fresh perspective on the world through the eyes of a seven-year-old boy. I honestly can’t remember when last I’ve found myself giggling (about Huxley’s word creations) while reading a book.
I struggled to find similar books to recommend since this book is so fresh and unique. So, while we wait for This Much Huxley Knows to be published in July, head over to Amazon and grab a copy of Gail’s first book The String Games, classified as a coming of age novel.
Did you read this book? Please share your opinion about it with us in the comments!
Susan van der Walt is an avid reader of genres like crime, thrillers, adventure, and true stories. On Read or Rot she shares her favourite books and quotes with you. She also writes articles, book reviews and book recommendations. She lives in Alberton (South Africa) with her husband, Warrick, and fur baby, Pixie.