What I Was
THE ENDING is what makes a story great or little, and until the end, Meg Rosoff's The Way I Was is great.
The narrator, Hilary, is miserable in a freezing, ritual-bound sea-coast boarding school of the 1960s.
He's on his last chance - he's been expelled from two previous schools - but he sneaks out and meets Finn, who lives all alone in a wooden chalet on an island reached by a tidal causeway.
Hilary joins Finn on secret expeditions in this understated love story. Finn lives a Boy's Own life, without school or family, living from work on market stalls in town, and longlining for fish.
Finn can't believe that Hilary thinks it's an accomplishment to be a lazy student, and teaches him how to sail, manage a kayak, fish and work for money.
They go hunting for a mediaeval town lost under the sea. "Can you really hear the bells?" Hilary asks, and Finn says, yes, of course.
Rosoff is best known for How I Live Now, a much talked-about 'crossover' novel: a children's book also read by adults, about a 21st-century world war.
How I Was is a winningly told story, and deserves the fabulous sales it's already achieving.