This is one of the books I have to read for my Children’s Literature section of my degree. I have a few more books to read but I thought I’d do a short review/first impressions of the books as I read them.
Coram Boy is written by Jamila Gavin and was first published in the year 2000 by Egmont Books. It is a winner of the Whitbread Children’s Book Award. The book is loosely based on the Coram Hospital in London and it’s founder Captain Thomas Coram who opened the hospital in 1741. This hospital was a place for orphaned children, and in the story it talks about illegitimate children being taken to this hospital. Enough of the back story on to the actual story.
The story is set in two places, Gloucester and London, and is set in two separate years; 1741 and 1750 and these two years divide the story into two parts.
The first part is centred on Alexander and Thomas. Two choir boys based in London, Alexander being the heir of a big estate, Thomas being a child of a working family as such. Alongside this story of disappointment and family opinions runs the story of Otis and his son Meshak. Otis is the sort of character that you don’t really want to meet in at night in the street, Gavin has portrayed him well as the ‘villain’ of the story and he continues right through to the end of the story. Meshak is a lovable character – though not all quite there – reminds me of Sloth off The Goonies movie. He is a key character for the book and you can tell how his character doesn’t quite change through the book.
New characters are introduced in the second part, consisting of Aaron and Toby. Both orphans and living at Coram hospital you find out why they are so important towards the end of the book.
The last few chapters seem to sum up the story – you find out why things happened and how they did. Sometimes the chapters confused me because the way it was written changed and although it was written in first person narrative the narrator of the chapter would change from each of the different character in the story. Especially the last chapter – you had to make sure you understood the book to figure out who was talking in the last chapter.
Overall, I feel Coram boy was written well, though as a YA story I am unsure. Perhaps it is because of how it is written that I struggled to get into the story and finish it.