Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My favourite book when I was in grade 9

Kes or 'A Kestrel for a Knave' was my favourite book when I was in Grade 9. It was written by Barry Hines and a film version was directed by Ken Loach. I was initially drawn to the book by the front cover of a boy giving a two finger salute in a defiant gesture that I related to as a rebellious teenager.
Kes dramatizes the grim realities of life for 15-year old Billy Casper in the bleak mining town of Barnsley in Yorkshire, England. For Billy, life offers little hope for the future other than working in the mines. Disinterested in his studies, the victim of bullies, pushed around by his deadbeat older brother Jud , Billy finds a spark only when he succeeds in raising and training a kestrel (falcon) that he "finds" on a neighbor's land. Billy's latent intelligence and awareness are brought to the surface for fleeting moments, especially when his English teacher Mr. Farthing allows him to speak to the class about Kes, but he is soon overwhelmed by the crush of circumstances at home.
Below is a review from Hashi. Read in March, 2008:
I first read "Kes" in middle school, the year I lived in England, and had my first oblique exposure to the poverty and rough living of the characters in this outstanding novel. Re-reading it now was riveting. Not a word is wasted. Hines masterfully evokes the reality of life for this boy from the wrong side of the tracks who finds a reason to live in his relationship with a kestrel. Wonderful stuff.

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a good book, sir!!!
    I'll make sure to read it.