When We Were Romans, by Matthew Kneale (21 January — 23 January)

I’m not gonna lie, I read this book because of its cover. Luckily, the book was pretty darn good as well!

Our narrator, 9-year-old Lawrence, lives with his mother Hannah and sister Jemima in England. His father, who lives in Scotland, has been bothering Lawrence’s mother so she decides to pack up the kids and go on a little vacation — to Rome, in the middle of the school year. They try to live a moderately normal life while being shuffled from house to house among Hannah’s old friends and hoping that their father doesn’t find them.

Hmm. That doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it really was. The book is written as if by Lawrence so it’s riddled with spelling errors and general kid misunderstandings, but it’s fun to read about what’s going through his mind before he decides what he’s going to say. Lawrence is also a smart little kid, so each section of his narrative begins with some information from his book about space or books about Roman emperors that pertains to the story and is also educational!

Having Lawrence as the narrator helps keep the true nature of things hidden for a while, and as it started to fall into place for me I was just hoping he would figure it out too. Definitely a great conceit.

Rating: 8/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2008, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

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One thought on “When We Were Romans, by Matthew Kneale (21 January — 23 January)

  1. Nymeth says:

    That cover would totally have sold me too. I’m glad the book turned out to be good! It’s one that’s been on my wishlist for a few months now.

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