London Calling by Edward Bloor. Reviewed from ARC; publication date September 2006.
The Plot: Martin Conway is having problems at school, problems his self-sacrificing mother chooses not to see. Martin is burdened by the sacrifices his mother is making to send him to a school he doesn't want to be at; by the failure of his parent's marriage; by his poor relationship with his alcoholic father; and by the pressure of living up to his mother's father, a World War II hero.
When Martin's maternal grandmother dies, he is left her radio; and when he listens to it, he finds himself transported back in time, to London during the Blitz. Back in the modern world, he begins to look into the history of London, the Blitz, and the people he meets when back in time. He begins to discover secrets he didn't know existed, and finds answers to questions people wanted to keep hidden.
The Good: Martin's evolution is very believable, as he tries to reconcile the different aspects of his life and his history.
Bloor uses an odd device; an adult Martin is telling the story of what happened to him as a young teen. The adult lives in our future, with his 12 year old past being our present (and the Blitz is everyone's past.) I'm not sure why he did this, but I felt as if the present were more 1950-ish than today because of it.
Bloor doesn't explain what is happening with the radio; is Martin seeing ghosts or is he indeed traveling into the past? What is happening in the past, the present, and the future?
The story is full of betrayals and truth and secrets. I love that LC honors the Blitz and those Londoners who lived during that time; at the same time, Bloor does not deify those who lived then, and instead confronts the "greatest generation" label placed on everyone connected with world war II. He shows that they were not heroes; but neither were they traitors; they were men, with weaknesses and faults. Humans. And as soon as Martin can escape from thinking of people as either strong or weak; hero or loser; he frees himself.
I also loved Martin's sister, who helps him with the research that takes place on the Internet but also in real life, as they track down documents and people. I also liked how it shows that sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to get the real story.
Links: It's impossible to read this book and not think about Frequency. I'm not sure the connection to the song.