Thursday 2 June 2011

An Act of Love by Alan Gibbons

Pages - 281

Published by Orion Children's Books on the 2nd June 2011

Book kindly sent to me by publisher for a honest review.

You think you're invincible when you're a kid. Invincible, that's a laugh. We're easy to hurt, any of us, all of us. Physically, emotionally, we snap. Like a matchstick. Easy as that. 
And the damage can last a day.
A week.

This book looks at the lives of two children from two different religions, Chris and Imran, who begin their childhood as sworn blood brothers. The story follows them through the next ten years where worldwide events begin to affect their friendship,driving a wedge between them and sending them on very different pathways. Chris joins the army, whilst Imran becomes involved with radicalists that want to stop the war their own way.

I was surprised how much I loved the book. I did worry when I saw the cover that it might not be for me, but how wrong I was. It actually made me want to read more about the war in Afghanistan and clarified my ignorance on a war that has raged for so long. I really enjoyed the way real life events are intertwined with the story, allowing you to see how events spiralled out of control within multiracial communities. It is a gritty read, that really made me think and open my eyes to a situation that really hasn't directly affected my life.

The story is told from two points of view, both Chris and Imran guide us through the events of the last ten years. Each giving their voice to their opinions and beliefs and why they made the decisions they did; I felt that this helped to remind me of the events of the last ten years. Chris's voice really stood out to me, especially the insightful passages set on patrol in the Helmund Province, a place I felt constantly alerted to by the media. Imran makes rash decisions but thankfully through the love of his family, he is able to turn them around. Some of the scenes were full of sadness and my compassionate side took over.

From the first couple of pages, I felt like I was on a time limit, an event was about to occur that would change people's lives if it happened and I needed to get to the end of the book to press the timer and save the lives of the people involved. The book moves at an extremely fast pace and you do find yourself holding your breath a little as the story reverts back to the present day.

It is not often that I read a book and come away feeling guilty. Feeling guilty about my own ignorance.  My ignorance over a war that rarely interfered with my own life.  This book brings historical moments from the last ten years back into focus, with a clear indication at how they affected real lives.  I can remember exactly where I was for 9/11 and 7/7 but they never really affected my life directly. This book shows us the real effects of these events; the reaction to the Muslims who have lived all their lives in England is terrible, the way they became targets for their beliefs after events occurred thousands of miles away.

This book should be on every  reading list in every secondary school. This book gives teenagers a real account of how the war in Afghanistan actually affected the people around the world. It is a powerful read that leaves you with questions and reflections about the past ten years. I would even petition for it to be included as part of school reading lists. The teenagers of today should be reading this to put their own lives into perspective and to realise how lucky they are to be living in the UK.

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to read this book and would happily encourage adults and teenagers alike to read it. An excellent, well written, hard hitting book to make you sit up and take notice.


  1. Great review and I completely agree with everything you have said. I really enjoyed this book too, and I can see it having the potential to be a great discussion point in schools or even with parents.

    I really hope that this book becomes a huge summer success, it definitely deserves to.

  2. Great review and I am glad that you liked the book. Hopefully it would make others think too

  3. Amazing review. Living in the NE US I'd be hard pressed to find people who weren't directly affected by 911. Incite can have fantastic healing properties. What are your thoughts on reading this book for those who have lost loved ones?

  4. Jules - i just think it gives great insight into the events that occurred and would be current for today's teenagers.

    Blodeuedd - Let us hope so.

    Animewookie - Mmm, not sure on that one. It is very much from an English point of view and they don't dwell too long on 9/11. I imagine any books like this would be very difficult reads for someone who has lost a loved one in this kind of situation.

  5. Wonderful review, Vivienne! It does sound like a book that should be on school reading lists, and on mine as well.

  6. great review Viv, we totally had the same reaction to this book, it was immensely powerful and such an amazing read!

  7. Wonderful review, Vivienne! I think I would like to read this book even if it isn't what I usually like to read.

    I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the attacks of 9/11 in 2001. I was just coming home from school(I'm not sure what the English equivalent to the education most teens in Norway take from the age of 16 till they're 19 - further education college maybe?) and was visiting my grandmother and grandfather. It was just such a shock when I came in and watched the telly. It felt surreal like it was taken right out of some action movie.. sadly it was as real as it could get. I remember that I was both sad and frightened(even if I live a long distance from the US).

    I'm not quite sure what I did 7/7 but I was just a little month away from giving birth to our first born son. So I was probably at home.

  8. I wondered about this book cover when I saw it on your blog as well but it sounds like such an important book for young people and adults to read. I'm glad you posted about it.

  9. Wow. This sounds exactly like something I'd read - It sounds like something my mum would buy and then I'd steal from her. Sticking this on my wishlist. Loved your review, Viv. :D

  10. Youve got me curious about Chris and Imrans story. This book sounds incredible. Nice review!


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