Indigo's Star (by Hilary McKay)

Having thoroughly enjoyed reading 'Saffy's Angel' a few months ago, I was determined to read more by Hilary McKay. On a recent trip to the UK I was able to buy various books at the Amazon marketplace, and was particularly pleased to find the first sequel. It was a hardback edition, thankfully a British one, in very good condition.

'Indigo's Star' is a book for older children or younger teens, continuing the saga of the delightful and disorganised Casson family. Indigo, who is about thirteen, has been off school for some time with glandular fever. Although he is now recovered he doesn't want to go back to school at all, because he has been badly bullied. However, at last he must return... and to his surprise he meets a new boy, Tom, who does not seem to be worried by the bullies. Tom and Indigo do not click very well at first, but gradually become friendly.

The story isn't just about school, or about bullying. There's a strong underlying thread about family breakdowns, with a sad but not unexpected revelation towards the end of the book. It's about family loyalty, too; Rose, Indigo's small sister, takes up the cudgels on his behalf. She takes quite a shine to Tom, and he finds himself easily accepted and adopted into the extended Casson family chaos.

It's also about maturity: about learning to deal with fears and worries, and about facing up to the worst that life can bring. There's nice irony in the book, and some light humour, and a great deal of warmth, as well as a bittersweet ending.

I didn't think that this book was quite as refreshing as 'Saffy's Angel', but still it was an engrossing and enjoyable book. It stands alone, so although more things make sense when read as a sequel, it's not necessary to have read that first.

Recommended to anyone of about eight or nine and older, including adults who want a light and relaxing read. Note that this is fairly often available second-hand, although it seems to have been re-published several times and is still in print as a new book.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 3rd December 2011

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