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April 2023 Book of the Month

Category: Library, Monthly Book Reviews, News

The Worlds We Leave Behind – A.F. Harrold & illustrated by Levi Penfold

Why are humans often motivated by revenge?  Wanting to seek revenge when you’ve been wronged seems to be a natural human response, but is acting on our desire for revenge ever the right thing to do?  Maria, Hex and Tommo, the main characters in The Worlds We Leave Behind, find it very difficult to live with the consequences of their vengeful actions.

This is a dark and unsettling story, with Grimm fairy-tale qualities.  Whilst playing in the woods with his friend Tommo, Hex does something stupid, and injures a little girl who joined them to play.  Rather than take responsibility and help the girl, he runs away.  Plagued with guilt and spurned by Tommo, who is disappointed in Hex’s reaction, he runs off into the woods.  There he meets a mysterious old woman and her dog and is given the chance to change things.  The old woman offers to delete the event and Hex gives it serious consideration.  However, he’s not the only one to have been approached by the old woman.  The little girl’s sister, Maria, is also approached by the old lady with the same offer.  Maria was furious about her sister’s injury but also felt responsible as she was supposed to be looking after her when she disappeared into the woods.  Her “shame was replaced with blame” and she doesn’t think twice about accepting the offer.

The next day Tommo and Maria wake up to a very different world.  Hex, and all memory of him, has been deleted.  Maria suddenly understands the reality of the pact she has made with the strange woman and feels as if “her heart [is] following along behind her, dragging itself at a desperate distance”.

This is a lyrical and often disturbing story which touches on the idea that revenge never ends.  Its illustrations, full of dark and light and shadows perfectly complement the creepy atmosphere of the story. 

Available to borrow for all year groups.

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