Thursday, 11 July 2019

Susie Day - Max Kowalski Didn't Mean It - Book Review (Puffin)


As I was delving further into the 'to be read' pile, I came across the latest book by Susie Day. Max Kowalski Didn't Mean It will be published in paperback this coming September (2019). The story idea was formed after the author attended a Mental Health First Aid course where a frightening statistic was shared revealing that suicide is the number one cause of death among men aged 20-49. This led to the author writing a middle-grade book that covers mental empathy with great skill. 

The book from the first page is very compelling to read. Max Kowalski is an 11-year old boy who is always in trouble. He wants to be just like his dad: fun, loud, strong and dependable. However, with three younger siblings and a family coping with the loss of their mother the story takes you on a turbulent path that will pull on the emotional heartstrings. Overnight, everything changes when mysterious boxes and even more mysterious bundles of cash start turning up at their house.  The story takes another twist when Max's dad goes missing and Max has to 'step up' and look after his three little sisters: Ripley (a great name!) and twins Thelma and Louise. 

The magic for me in this story starts when Max takes them away to hide in a remote village in Wales. Here they learn about the legend of the golden dragon who guards a hoard of gold on the top of Snowdonia. However, is the legend real? Max wants to be a big hero, so he sets off on a quest to 'do battle'. The story highlights the naivety of the children and the idyllic brilliant setting of the Welsh mountains. The plot breaths fresh air and a dash of fantasy magic throughout it. 

The book explores all of the different forms of masculinity whilst keeping the story upbeat and very uplifting. The three sisters will make you laugh and the interaction between them in this story feels whimsical - filling the story with moments of sorrow and laughter. The characters are brilliantly written and will help young readers relate to many of the situations they are also faced with. Hopefully, this should start to help start and open up conversations about grief and not being the stereotypical family in a world that is ever changing. 

This is a book that will be loved by all. It's a fast-paced family adventure filled with drama, heart, human magic and lots of emotion. Look out for this when it is published as you will not be disappointed. 

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