Author: Ben Davis
Genre: Children’s Fiction suitable for 10 plus
Review by: Orla O’ Brien, Kildare Town Library
When Jordan finally gets invited to go to the chippy with the cool kids, he feels stupid carrying around a flask of mum’s wholesome soup. He decides instead to give it to a homeless man called Harry. It’s this one act of kindness that leads to a host of new friendships and a community movement.
We are introduced to the main protagonist Jordon, aged thirteen. He is in remission. Several times, throughout his young life, he has battled with cancer. Knowing this, the reader can understand why Jordon’s mother is so overprotective and overbearing. She is terrified, if he catches even a cold, he will be ill again. However, Jordon doesn’t want to be wrapped up in cotton wool and live a sheltered life. He just wants to be treated like a normal person.
Attending a new school, he keeps the cancer treatment to himself. Whether he likes it or not he is conspicuous with his childish cycling helmet. His mother insists he wears it while cycling. For lunch she gives him a flask with soup which is so embarrassing, and not cool at all.
Jordon is surprised when the ‘cool’ gang invites him to have lunch with them. Will, a member of gang, tries to impress the others by tormenting Harry, a homeless person. His cruel antics aren’t funny to Jordon. He lingers in the park and gives his mother’s soup to Harry. This is the start of the soup movement, that provides hot soup to those in need. Jordan is to be admired for not being a sheep that follows the crowd. He knows what the right thing is to do and wants to make a difference.
The author shines a light on homeless people. He reminds us that they are human too. Many people are afraid of homeless people because of their unkempt appearance. By reading this book you will see what life is like from their perspective. Elaine, an important character, tells us
‘The people you see on the streets. We’re living, breathing humans, just like you. You don’t have to avoid us. You don’t have to be scared. I don’t expect everyone to give me change as they go by, but a little smile or nod would be nice. Just something to make me feel I exist’
The reason why Jordon has been motivated to do good deeds for others is down to his hospital buddy, Rio. Rio is vivacious and witty. She too has battled cancer numerous times. They often spent the same long stints together in hospital. There was no hiding the impact of gruelling chemotherapy. It left them both with balding, scabby scalps, protruding bones and zapped them of all their energy. No matter how weak they were they could always make each other laugh. They made a pinky swear to do good deeds, otherwise known as Mitzvah, for a whole year.
Jordon has other battles to fight, apart from cancer. Will becomes jealous and spiteful of all the attention Jordon is getting. He is resentful as the soup movement takes off and is successful. His revenge compromises the safety of Jordon’s homeless friends. Abi, his sister is extremely annoying. She is self-obsessed and is only interested in posting narcissistic selfies and videos on social media. This is all about to change.
This book shows compassion for people who are down on their luck. It gives a harrowing but profound insight of what its really like to have childhood cancer. It also reminds us not to be judgemental of others. What I love most about this book is knowing it is based on a true story.
This title is available to borrow from our libraries you can request it online and make an appointment to visit your local library and collect it when we notify you it has arrived.
We hope you enjoyed this review. Remember under the Government’s Keep Well Campaign – Switching off and being creative or learning something new, getting back to nature, and finding ways to relax can help our general wellbeing. For more information check out our blog posts here and here or take a look at the Kildare County Council’s Keep Well page for the latest activities to help you Keep Well.