Category Archives: Libraries

Ellen Lives On

Writing in The Guardian in late 2014 the author Rupert Wallis was minded to tell us that ‘…more and more not-so- young adults are reading YA fiction’ –  which he declared was no bad thing. He went on…

‘The power of YA fiction to generate an emotional resonance around death should not be underestimated in UK society, where young adults spend a lot of time immersed in the artificial realities of cyberspace and gaming’.

Source: The Guardian, 18th August 2014.

Ellen Lives On - cover image and web link
Buy this book here, with free delivery…

Lynda Haddock, in her first novel, has wonderfully underscored the sentiment with her first novel Ellen Lives On. The book features the journey, the exploration of a new life and the acquisition of a new set of values, by the teenager Ellen.

For Ellen the journey is mapped from the suicide of her mother, an emergent rally to the cause of education and her exodus to the Metropolis in search new friends, political engagement and the forming of a new identity for herself.

‘One way of tackling the difficult questions raised by death is to feel connected to one another in addressing them, to feel human together…’ writes Wallis in his article. Indeed, the sensitively written, clear narrative from Lynda Haddock stirs up the emotions and will clearly illuminate a shared experience for teenagers suffering loss.

Buy this book, with free shipping here…

The new novel was enjoyed by the Books go Walkabout team in our office. Sue Martin, writing for our new season book list opined…

”A desperately moving novel about a young girl whose life changes forever when she returns home to find that her mother has committed suicide.

Ellen, a scholarship girl at a local grammar school in the 1970’s, finds that life is uncomfortable and fraught as soon as you are no longer the ‘norm’ pupil, let alone the trauma of discovering that she is alone in the world. Alone, that is, apart from her Grandfather, who is elderly and lives a long way from Ellen.

Taken in by her aunt and uncle, Ellen finds the welcome is short lived and that she is a burden to the family, simply used as the girl in the house to do all the chores. Her uncle tells her the sooner she finishes school and starts a job the sooner she can pay for her living.

After a series of heart-wrenching problems with friends, teachers and those who were meant to be supporting her, Ellen goes on the run. She finds friendship with people in a squat, her grandfather is taken into hospital and she abandons any hope of a career with prospects.

Eventually Social Services find Ellen and her life starts to rebuild, but never back to where it was and with very little hope of the future that had been planned.

A moving and poignant story for Young Adults and a thought provoking debut novel for Lynda Haddock.”

It is also, in its way, a primer for adults, the ‘not so young’ in Wallis’s narrative, to recognise the strains and pains of a teenager going through this crisis, such is the insight afforded the reader of any age by Lynda Haddock’s writing.

Lynda Haddock’s work joins a solid tradition of novels that seek to offer reflection and a way forward in the face of death and loss. From The Fault in Our Stars by John Green to Jacqueline Wilson’s Vicky Angel – the Haddock narrative deals with death, yes, but also in the exploration of self, equality and values – all of which are significant markers for young adults as they march forward into the 21st Century.

For Wallis ‘…the true significance of death in YA is that authors are reflecting back what they see everyday; namely, that death is ominously prevalent these days, whether in fiction or a national news broadcast or the obituary columns‘.

This is certainly true of the author Lynda Haddock, whose professional life before her novel encompassed education and the specialist support of children experiencing difficulty in their lives. The storytelling resonates with it.

The experience tellingly shows in the novel Ellen Lives On, and we hope it might become a staple of your library of resources – tendering a way into loss and bereavement that will be recognised by any teenager, whatever their culture, age or background.


Editor’s Note:

We would commend Lynda Haddock’s publisher to note that the YA Book Prize for 2019 is now open for nominations.

You can discover the latest updates to the YA Book Prize here.

Publishers can find the YA Book Prize terms and conditions and how to apply details here.

We loved this book, buy a copy and explore challenging and stirring landscapes of the teenage mind.

The conversationsEAST team.

Our team also deliver international author and illustrator visits and exchanges through our Books go Walkabout project. Find out more here…

You can also discover reviews and features for younger readers on Book Monitor, our BgW review pages. See more here...

Enlightenment in the East of England

Send to Kindle

Into the library vortex…

Library vortex, image and web link
Into the library vortex of knowledge and imagination…

We have, with our new Libraries news-feed page, given our readers the opportunity to keep up with latest news from across the UK.

We are rotating our topical feeds across University libraries, feminist collections and featuring, as we must, the go to public library resource, PLN.

Library image by Jaredd Craig…

Check our our Libraries page below and keep coming back to stay informed.

    See more: http://www.conversationseast.org/libraries/

In The Guardian you can find an encompassing article that sums up the decline of the local library. Picturing a library using population that has tumbled by 30% in a decade. See more

The study it regales us with is Taking Part (.pdf) from the DCMS. It found that…

The greatest fall in adult library usage was seen among 16 to 24-year-olds, according to the DCMS report. In 2005, figures showed that 51% of this age group used the library. In 2015, the figure fell to 25.2%.

Statista, the Statistics Portal, offers detailed annual library visits data, from 2002 to 2014.  Here the analysis shows that from a peak in 2005/, with a total of £42 million visits, by 2013/14 this figure had declined to just over 282 million visits.

It is never too late to fight back and get into good library habits. We like the 10 Reasons to use Your Library article, on the web journal Ten Penny Dreams. Elegantly laid out, the author, a North of England writer, gently chides us to remember why using a library is such a joy and a revelation. See more here

If you need it, visitcambridge.org in the East of England are offering public tours of the Parker Library, including parts of Corpus Christi College. Where you can ‘…sample its amazing collection which includes the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, principal source book for early English history, the sixth-century Gospels of Saint Augustine, the Bury Bible and the best manuscript of Chaucer’s Troilus…

Proof, if proof were needed, that librarians are keepers of our collective culture, and that libraries, as buildings, are the engines of our future dreams. Don’t lose it, use it!

    See more: http://www.conversationseast.org/libraries/

Enlightenment in the East of England

Send to Kindle