I’ve had this book for a number of years and never got around to reading it. I am not entirely sure why, but I also put it in a Little Free Library clearing out shelf space, but I recently picked it back out of there to finally read it. I had read an article about what British schools make kids read and this was on one of the lists.
It’s about a group of boys during WWII who play a game that they become entirely too embroiled in trying to discover whether or not one of the boys mothers is a German spy. They find a notebook of hers where she’s marking off specific days with an X and they begin to collect information and data on her under the idea that she’s a spy.
The novel also involves some various side-steps with smoking cigarettes and meeting girls that go along with a lot of other coming of age novels. But this one is different and darker in some specific ways.
It’s important to mention that the whole novel is set off by the narrator smelling a tree and being kind of transported back to the time in his mind, but he also makes it known that this is a walled off part of his brain, so we understand we are headed to a darker place. And the tone of the novel fluctuates on whether we are feeling more of the man or more of the boy in the voice of narration.
The book reminds me a lot of LP Hartley’s The Go Between, a great novel, but this on its own is a good novel.