Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thornhill by Pam Smy

In 1982 Mary lives in the Thornhill orphanage where she is bullied and terrorized daily by one of the other girls who only shows a sweet face to everyone else.  Mary records her fears and the escalating bullying in her journal while making puppets to keep herself busy.  

In 2016 Ella has just moved into a new house that faces the burned out shell that was Thornhill.  Her father is often away so Ella spends time investigating the grounds of Thornhill where she finds broken puppet that she restores and places back where she found them.  She is hoping to finally meet the girl she sees on the grounds from time to time.

A student told me he was going to nominate this book for a reading program but then he didn't for several weeks.  But knowing that he had liked it enough to consider a  nomination, I added it to my reading list.  After leafing through it I had my doubts - I definitely had my doubts!  But then it turned out to be pretty darn interesting.  Mary's diary entries are creepy and heartbreaking as she allows herself to trust the other girls only to be betrayed by them all over again and let down by the adults around her.  And Ella's illustrated sections convey her loneliness and the way her life becomes slowly intertwined with Mary's.  Rather than feeling like a gimmick to pull in graphic novel readers, the graphic sections of the book seem like a perfect complement to the narrative.  In the end, a nicely scary book!

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