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Review of Just Henry by Michelle Magorian

September 5, 2017

Review of Just Henry by Michelle Magorian

Reviewed by Fiza Pathan


Just Henry by Michelle Magorian is a book that I have been coveting to read for a long time. I managed to get my hands on it and read it a few weeks back. It is a 702-page-book, with a lot of action, drama and suspense. It tells the story of a fifteen-year-old boy, Henry Dodge, and how he handles challenges in his life in the backdrop of 1949 London, just after World War II. This book covers the early black and white films of the last century and how children like Henry who lived in post war England, used to find solace from the anxieties of their life, at Picture Palaces, watching these movies. If you like films and the cinema, this is the book you should be reading. It may be 702 pages long, but for a person who loves cameras, films, and especially the early black and white movies, this book will be a real treat. This book is meant for preteens, young adults, as well as adults, who want a new way of looking at post -World War England, through the life and times of a boy growing up there. The mention of the names of these old but golden, black and white movies, will bring back sweet memories to readers who have watched them. I would also like to mention how powerful Magorian’s story telling skills are, as she effortlessly weaves in drama, emotion and adventure into the book like a wonderful seamstress, with a theme not many young adult writers are willing to work on. I admire the way topics like bigamy, illegitimacy, broken homes, divorce, etc., are handled skilfully by a master writer. The characters are larger than life, something like the grand movies they watch almost every week, if not every day! The arrival of modern day jazz and the bebop scene is also recorded here in Just Henry, with the subplot of the character Grace, who can neither read nor write, but who can sing in ‘alto’ and creates a small revolution among her friends and the girls of her age group who were taught that girls can only sing in ‘soprano’ and can’t sing low. Other memorable characters like Mrs. Beaumont, Jefferies, Pip, Mrs. Carpenter, Daniel, Mr. Dodge, Mr. Finch, etc., make the story come alive, and makes the fiction book so gloriously real, that at times emotions seize you with a tight grip as you read the hard-hitting and excellent dialogues. A great read for readers of all ages by the award-winning author Michelle Magorian. Just Henry is ‘Just Superb’.

Copyright © 2017 Fiza Pathan

  1. Sounds an amazing read.

    • It was good, especially for those people who are into photography & cinema….especially cinema. Brings back a lot of memories. 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this review of the book, Just Henry, by Michelle Magorian from this post on the Insane Owl blog.

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