Friday, 24 April 2015

If You Find This

If You Find This by Matthew Baker (Hot Key Books)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9781471404528

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

As soon as you read in the first page of this first person narrative that the protagonist eleven-year-old Nicholas Funes has an ongoing relationship with a tree that he believes is his brother, you know this is going to be quirky, and Nicholas weird.  The boy also collects prime numbers and square roots and the text is full of references to them. There is also something which irritated this reader: the words ‘forte’ and ‘piano’ are littered throughout the book to indicate mood. I found them distracting and could not see what purpose they served.

As for the story, Nicholas’ real troubles begin when his Grandfather, a family secret, is let out of prison. The old man confides he has a map to an immense fortune; the problem is that it seems as though he’s suffering from dementia so whether or not he has one is problematic. Fighting off bullies is one of Nicholas’ problems and, too, he’s upset that the family is going to have to sell off their home to solve monetary problems.

What follows next is a series of events that see Nicholas, with two unlikely accomplices, trying to engineer a break-out from a retirement home, making an agreement with a local witch and trying to solve the secrets of his family’s past.

Nicholas sure is weird indeed. I found this story challenging, trying to ignore the fortes and pianos and other oddities. But for a reader aged 11 years and up who enjoys books about strange friendships, weirdness, family secrets and dangerous adventures, then this might be a book for him or her.

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