on July 30, 2013 :
Not all the boys at Penwinnard Boys' Home are eligible for adoption, but those who are try to put their best foot forward when potential parents come to visit. As the boys say, "You gotta have manners." Manners isn't just about saying "please" and "thank you," it's also about curbing curse words, using correct grammar, and acting favorably when visiting with adoptive parents. Sometimes manners aren't enough, though. And, sometimes manners hide an underlying cruelty.
In this novel, Sid struggles to keep his manners in check so he can attract a new mum and dad. Ian knows his boys, but sometimes he doesn't quite trust potential parents. As it turns out, he has good instincts. Unfortunately, he can't pick up on everything. A new boy comes to Penwinnard, and though Ian watches him like a hawk, he can't quite figure out why he has niggling feelings of doubt about the well-mannered young man. Once again, Bob's life is in danger and it's up to Ian--and his goodhearted boys--to keep him safe.
The author delves into the world of bureaucratic nonsense that often exists when social workers get involved in family matters. While social workers often save lives, they can sometimes be wrong, especially when they deem one family unfit, while granting another couple the rights to adopt. The story explores domestic abuse and how it shatters lives. Through these Penwinnard boys, we meet lonely boys longing for family; self-sufficient young men who learn to trust; boys who, though they may fight each other for status, are willing to battle anyone who gets in the way of their makeshift family; and a sociopath who threatens to destroy a boy who has already been through so much in his young life. The author tackles difficult issues with sensitivity, and sometimes humor.
I can't get enough of these Penwinnard Stories. I'm absolutely in love with this world McRae has created. After finishing this second book in the series, I've come to care about these boys as if they were my own. The characters are so vibrant, so believable, so realistic, I think about them long after I've finished reading. I only wish the next book was available. I can't wait to walk the halls of Penwinnard again.
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)
on April 4, 2013 :
As the wife of a ''welfare kid'' and author of ''The Pencil Case'', I struggled emotionally with this story, which was ''a little too close to home''. But I can attest to the accuracy of the portrayal of children in this situation - their character, behaviour, thoughts and emotions. Penwinnard was a very different place to the homes described in ''The Pencil Case'', hopefully accurately reflecting substantial improvements in society's attitude to and care of underprivileged children.
M.A. McRae has again crafted a great story, filled with characters she brings to life and compels us to feel for... laugh with, and even to cry for...characters who live on after the story is done and who, no doubt, will appear in yet another great sequel. I look forward to news of the next in the Penwinnard series.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)
on Nov. 21, 2012 :
I bought this book because of the "Shuki series", but found this one to be different - less confronting. A very good story, well written, good "word pictures". This author takes the reader on an interesting and entertaining journey to surprising destinations. Damned if I know where she gets her concepts from, definitely not experience, but also credible and well researched. Well worth the tiny expense, and an excellent read - I don't waste time reading books unless they "hold me", and this writer has the gift.
Now I am going to try her next.
(reviewed 12 days after purchase)
on Nov. 13, 2012 :
After reading ‘Angel No More’, I was hoping for more of the same – and I wasn’t disappointed. Although the focus is slightly more on young Sid, who’s desperate for a new adoptive family, there is still plenty of action involving the other boys. We’ve said goodbye to some characters and we meet a few new ones, but as before this is a fly-on-the-wall account of life in a privately-run boys’ home in Cornwall. And it’s beautifully done too, with just the right amount of detail. The author has perfect timing – knowing when to focus in on something specific and when to pull back and give us the wider picture, resulting in a satisfying read. Thoroughly recommended again.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)