Synopses & Reviews
A 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
In Sally Gardner’s stunning novel, set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing.
What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the "train-track thinkers." So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big...One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.
"Just when it seems that there's nothing new under the dystopian sun, Gardner (The Red Necklace) produces an original and unforgettable novel about a boy in a totalitarian society who risks everything in the name of friendship. Standish Treadwell narrates in short, fast-paced chapters, illustrated by theatrical designer/director Crouch with flipbook-style images of rats, flies, and maggots: creatures that represent the oppressive forces at work in the Motherland, a brutish government intent on being first to the moon, at whatever cost to its citizens. Fifteen-year-old Standish is dyslexic (as is the author), making him a target of bullies, which is the least of his problems. He lives with his resourceful grandfather in Zone Seven, but the Motherland has taken away his parents, as well as his best friend, Hector. The loss of his parents has created a hole Standish cannot fill; the disappearance of Hector leaves Standish unprotected at school and bereft of a friend who saw past Standish's disability to recognize his intelligence. 'I believe the best thing we have is our imagination,' Standish recalls Hector telling him, 'and you have that in bucketloads.' Though Standish's grandfather keeps the boy purposefully in the dark about many things, Standish figures out one of the government's big secrets on his own, and he concocts a brave and personally risky plan to reveal it. Parts of the story are very hard to read early on, a classmate is beaten to death by a teacher in the schoolyard but the violence asks readers to consider what the world would be like if certain events in history had turned out differently. Gardner does a masterful job of portraying Standish's dyslexia through the linguistic swerves of his narration, and although the ending is pure heartbreak, she leaves readers with a hopeful message about the power of one boy to stand up to evil. Ages 12 up. Agent: Catherine Clarke, Felicity Bryan Associates." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
is an award-winning author whose novels have sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.K. and have been translated into twenty-two languages. She is dyslexic and is an avid spokesperson for dyslexia. "I strongly believe that dyslexia is like a Rubiks Cube," she says. "It takes time to work out how to deal with it, but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift." Sally Gardner lives in London.
Julian Crouch is a director and designer whose career has spanned theater, opera, film, and television. He is currently designing Big Fish for Broadway and Cinderella for the Dutch National Ballet. Julian Crouch lives in Brooklyn, New York.