A book review: Operation Eiffel Tower

Title: Operation Eiffel Tower

Author: Elen Caldecott

Publisher: July 5th 2011 by Bloomsbury

Synopsis: Lauren, Jack, Ruby and Billy live by the seaside with their mum and dad. But their parents are always arguing, and then their dad moves out. Lauren and Jack decide they have to get them together again. And so begins Operation Eiffel Tower…

From Goodreads

So for my second book of 2013 I decided to stick with an easy read. The bright colourful cover may hint at fun, but the Dempsey’s lives are anything but. Jack is right at that cusp over becoming a teenager, while still able to get carried away with plans like ‘Operation Eiffel Tower’, which is his master plan for getting his parents back together.

The characterisation of the different children’s viewpoints is a strong points of this book. Lauren the teenager deals with it through rebellious behaviour, but is probably, in the end, the most realistic about the outcome.

Jack as the main character, is the one who we see change the most. At the beginning his reactions are very childlike and heartfelt and you almost cringe at the thought of how determined and convinced he is that his plan will work. Throughout the book Jack always has hopes, although he learns to reflect and make his goals more realistic. Paul, a family friend, who is away in the army, helps Jack through his hilarious e mails.

Ruby reacts to everything around her without thought. She is happy, angry, sad, desperate, but at one point I did wonder if there was a little too much melodrama around this character.  And Billy just kind of toddles around and is pretty unaware of what is going on.

Through the Dad, Gavin Dempsey we get a pretty heart-rending adult’s view. At one point he reminisces about the last time he laughed and his reasons for the break-up are all so truthful but difficult for children to understand. I felt we weren’t getting enough of the Mum’s point of view though. I got that she was upset and sad and finding it difficult, but she came across a bit as the villain of the piece (or maybe that’s how I interpreted her).

The ending had me in floods of tears. As Jack and Lauren struggle to pull their adapted plan off, I was crying because it was a happy ending, but not a fairy tale happy ending. It was the ending this book needed. Caldecott has captured the heartbreaking reality of a family going through a divorce with humour and tenderness.

I would definitely recommend this book, along with a box of tissues and give it…

A book review: The Undrowned Child

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