Odd Child Out

Written by Gilly Macmillan

Review written by Mary Andrea Clarke

Mary Andrea Clarke is author of the Crimson Cavalier historical crime series, featuring aristocratic highway robber Georgiana Grey. Her career path has included a number of years in the Civil Service, a spell in the NHS and she has now moved into the private sector. She is currently working on a new Crimson Cavalier novel and another one set a few years later, with a bodysnatcher as the protagonist.


Odd Child Out
Sphere
RRP: £7.99
Released: April 5 2018
PBK

Teenage boys Abdi Mahad and Noah Sadler are best friends, sharing an interest in their chess club and generally negotiating the high school labyrinth.  However, a horrific incident tears into their friendship, putting one boy in a coma and traumatising the other into silence. 

At fifteen, Noah has spent more than half of his life suffering from cancer.  Just diagnosed as terminal, he wants an adventure, a rite of passage that time won’t otherwise let him have.  Following the triumphant opening of his father Ed’s photographic exhibition, Noah persuades Abdi to accompany him through Bristol in the small hours.  With Abdi’s increasing unease, the journey grows tense, ending with Noah underwater in the canal.

 Unpicking the events which led to this submersion proves a complex task.  While police are trying to establish whether the incident was an accident or a crime, both families are trying to support their affected sons.  Only the two boys can say what really happened and while the comatose Noah’s thoughts trace the history of his illness and friendship with Abdi, his friend remains stubbornly silent.

As the plot develops, it becomes apparent that each boy is facing a crisis in his own life.  Noah’s parents have very different approaches to his illness and his friendship with Abdi.  In their turn, Abdi’s family have their own baggage, adjusting to life in Britain after a Somalian camp, a past which intrudes through one of Ed’s photographs, discovered by Abdi.  Add to the mix a detective just returned to work after completing therapy and the combustible cocktail is assured. 

Odd Child Out works through the impact of Noah’s fall, taking us through the path that brought each character to this point.  Most information comes to the reader through thoughts and flashbacks, changing viewpoint as each puts forward their own perspective.  By contrast, the climax is explosive and action fueled, pushing all the strands together. 



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