I got some great new books for Christmas and couldn’t wait to get reading! Tom and I actually saw something on Facebook in December that on Christmas Eve in Iceland, families have a tradition called Jolabokaflod. It’s where you swap books and spend the evening reading them and drinking hot chocolate. So we decided it would become a new tradition for us as we both love reading but sometimes struggle to find the time to do so. The book Tom gave me Christmas Eve was ‘Odd Child Out‘ by Gilly Macmillan. I had added it to my Pinterest book board, so he did well to get it for me!
However, I didn’t actually start it Christmas Eve. We swapped gifts but then ended up spending the evening at the pub! But I did read it after Christmas and it was a very enjoyable read. Macmillan did a good job in creating characters you felt apathy for and empathy. Abdi and Noah Sadler are best friends and have been for years. They’re both teenagers who are described as being inseparable. We get Noah’s side of the story, Abdi’s sister, Sofia, DI Clemo and Noah’s mum, Fiona. Noah and Abdi had sneaked out of the Sadler’s house when they were having a sleepover and Noah ends up in intensive care after being rescued from the canal. Abdi appears to be in shock and refuses to speak.
From the beginning, suspicion falls upon Abdi. His family are Somali immigrants and Noah’s are very much middle-class. Another thing about Noah is that he has terminal cancer. Abdi’s family, in particular his mother, suffered a great deal before arriving in England. As his family grow increasingly concerned, we learn that his mother was brutally raped and fell pregnant because of it – with Abdi. We discover this later on in the book.
Noah’s mother and father, Fiona and Ed, are fiercely protective of their son – and some would think rightly so- but it leads him to become spoilt and self-righteous. Over the course of the narrative, we find that Noah once seriously harmed another boy in his class at school because of his jealousy and Fiona pulled him out and got him a place at the same private school as Abdi. Ed is a photographer and his speciality is in war zones/ dangerous places such as refugee camps in Africa.
Fiona believes that Abdi is a bad influence on her son and immediately points the finger at him. She suffocates her son, although it must be beyond difficult having a son with terminal cancer, she doesn’t allow him to live. Ed knows that Noah has a bucket list and he wants to do certain things before he dies. One of which is to get drunk with his best friend.
Noah has a lot of time off school due to his treatment and Abdi tries to make friends in his absence. He does, but Noah’s jealously and possessiveness pushes Imran away so he can have Abdi all to himself. Noah knows he is going to die soon but he wants to have one last special night with his best friend. It transpires that Noah has planned the whole thing. He persuades Abdi to sneak out of his parents house to go to the canal and get drunk with his best friend. Abdi, however, gets cold feet while they’re out and can see Noah is struggling physically. He tries to take him back home but Noah is determined to carry on and see the night through. They begin arguing and Noah tries to emotionally manipulate his friend, causing Abdi to scream at him that’s he only friends with him because no one else likes him. Noah begins shoving his friend causing Abdi to finally retaliate. A weakened Noah falls into the canal. What we later find out is that Noah had planned this – he had weights in his backpack as the last item on his bucket list was to be in control at the end.
Although Noah is a terminally ill child, you can’t help but dislike him. He’s rude, manipulative and self-centred. He uses Abdi and isolates him, making him do whatever he wants to do. Never taking into account anyone else’s feelings.
There’s also another element to the story. Ed has photograph’s from the refugee camp that Abdi’s family were in and there’s one photo that Abdi is particularly interested in. It’s of the man who raped his mother. Abdi talks to Ed when he is drunk and quizzes him on the man – Ed tells him where he found him and Abdi tracks him down. DI Clemo manages to save him.
Overall I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, purely because of the way Noah and Fiona treat people and how they think they should be treated. It gets quite irritating. It reminds me too much of people who voted for Brexit and that just got on my nerves to be honest. It was the first book by Macmillan I had read and I would read more.