03 October 2009

Book of the Week (31): "The Death Defying Pepper Roux" by Geraldine McCaughrean

"On the morning of his fourteenth birthday, Pepper had been awake for fully two minutes before realising it was the day he must die. His heart cannoned like a billiard ball off some soft green wall of his innards. This had to be the day everyone had been waiting for – and he was terrified he
would disappoint them, make a poor showing, let people down."

Thus begins Geraldine McCaughrean’s latest book, The Death Defying Pepper Roux, and with an opening paragraph like that how could you not want to read on?

When Pepper is born his Aunt announces that she has had a visit from Saint Constance in a dream. The saint’s message is clear (she has very good diction): Pepper will be dead by the time he is fourteen. And so Pepper grows up being taught the words of the funeral service, having to go to confession every other day and having to stay at home (there’s no point in wasting a good education on him if he won’t live to use it).

Then, on the day of his fourteenth birthday, life takes a surprising turn and Pepper finds himself leaping from one adventure to the next, with barely time to take a breath.

This is a terrific book and I defy anyone to read it and guess what’s coming next. Geraldine McCaughrean has a style all of her own and she is mistress of the magical power of similes to enrich a story.

My advice? Suspend your disbelief and join Pepper for the journey of a lifetime!

Recommended by Laura Hutchings

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