Skip to main content

Book Review: London Calling by Edward Bloor

Edward Bloor is one wacky guy. He comes up with original plots, and he knows how to execute them with skillful writing. In London Calling, our protagonist is Martin Conway, a bright, unhappy 12-year old with little drive. He is a self-proclaimed hermit who prefers to live in his home's basement. Martin's nuclear family consists of an alcoholic dad that works for an airport steakhouse chain, an unhappy mother who works as a secretary at the private school Martin attends, and a sister who is a genius and works at an encyclopedia company as a fact checker.

Martin has only two friends at his private Catholic school, which is controlled by the Lowery family. The Lowery family claims that their ancestor, Hollerin' Hank Lowery, was a World War II hero. They have some money, and so the school kowtows to that family.

The current reigning Lowery loves to pick on the weak, and he makes regular sport of picking on Martin and his friends. On one such occasion, Martin's friend, Manetti, takes a piece of concrete and chucks it at Lowery's head, causing Lowery to whine like a little girl. It also, unfortunately, breaks a chunk off a statue of Hollerin' Hank, which the school was just about to unveil for the Hall of Heroes. The school, in a guise of a fair trial, rules that Martin and his friends are completely responsible, suspending Martin from school.

At the same time, Martin loses a family member. His Grandma Mehan, his mother's mom, passes away. Grandma Mehan is another wacky family member. She believes that she came back from the dead while in the hospital. No one really takes her seriously. Martin, however, is quite fond of Grandma Mehan. When she passes away, she gives Martin a vintage cathedral radio from the 1940s.

Martin begs his mom and principal that he be allowed to remain on regular suspension. In lieu of attending school, he asks to do a home study about the radio his Grandma gave him. He gets permission, but Martin has a secret agenda. The radio is actually a time travel device. When he sets it to a frequency that receives static, Martin is transported back to 1940s London, where he meets a Jimmy Harker. Jimmy says Martin has something he needs to do, but he doesn't know what. Martin reluctantly follows Jimmy on several late night adventures, involving blackouts and the Germans bombing London. Martin suspects he is going crazy, but this is where his sister comes in. As a fact checker at an encyclopedia, she can verify or deny the facts he records from his travels.

Martin discovers he does have a mission to fulfill, and it will impact not only the Harker family, but his own family as well. Martin is asked repeatedly, "What will you do to help, when the time comes?" Martin finds out that he, yes, even he, a 12-year old boy, can make a difference. He also learns to hope again, and his family receives some healing.

I just loved this book. Any book that causes me to shed a tear is usually a winner for me. In addition, this story crosses genres. It was historical fiction, and it was also science fiction. It had the adventure and purpose that boys crave, and it had relationships that would appeal to girls.

I would recommend this to teens that love historical fiction. I would also give it to fantasy/science fiction fans that have to read historical fiction book for school.


Kelly said…
This has been on my to-read pile FOREVER, Zee. You've convinced me to give it a go! It sound like my daughter would like it too.
zeelibrarian said…
Yay! It is a great book. Kelly, you will have to let me know how you like it. Please give it your angle, as well. Right now, I am reading King Dork. Review coming up soon.
Kelly said…
Do you like King Dork? I really, really did. But sometimes I wonder if it was because he really captured my generation's point of view. (I think he's exactly my age.) My sister who is also an X-er, LOVED it. My much younger sister liked it less.

I also am one of those rare people who liked "Catcher," but didn't love it. I preferred "The Scarlet Letter." :)
zeelibrarian said…
I haven't finished King Dork yet. But you may be onto something. I was laughing at the fact that Portman was right on about AP classes and how you watched movies in AP history.

Popular posts from this blog

Riley Stearns' The Art of Self-Defense (2019) Movie Review: Do NOT Talk About Night Class

In 1999, David Fincher directed the book to movie Fight Club, a dark stylized comedy about a group of men who form a "support group" of sorts called Fight Club, where they pair up for no holds barred unarmed first fights with one another. Organized by the charismatic Tyler Durden, for a time, the meetings seem to be a good thing. Things start to spiral when the hero realizes Tyler is no good and must be stopped.

In many surface ways, The Art of Self-Defense is quite similar. Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) walks around like he is apologizing for taking up oxygen. He lives alone with his dog and works at a boring, thankless job as an accountant. One day, Jesse is attacked on the street by some unidentified motorcycle riders. He's hospitalized for his wounds and takes some times off work.

On a walk around town, he overhears a karate class and goes into observe. He feels intrigued and inspired by what he sees and decide to sign up for classes. He hopes that he can "become wha…

Ali Abassi's Border (2018): A Dark Swedish Fairy Tale

Have you ever felt like you are alone? Like you exist and move around in a community of people that you are nothing like?

Imagine how Tina feels. She works as a highly competent border guard for the sole reason that her sense of smell is extrasensory. She can smell fear, shame, and any negative emotion on people as they cross through her security area, and she is never wrong about her suspicions. Her work career, however, might be the only thing she has going for her.

She lives on the outskirts of town with a boyfriend that owns a pack of dogs, and from all counts, they live together in a loveless domestic arrangement that is hard to imagine either of them conceiving. Things become a little clearer later as we learn that Tina owns the home and the boyfriend is enjoying the luxury of living rent free. Tina appears to have no family except for the man she calls father, who claims to have adopted her.

Tina is unattractive by human standards and is most often seen staring attentively and …

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) A Window into the Life of a Working Class Woman

For every person who keeps their hands clean and smooth from doing heavy duty manual labor, there are people who work thanklessly in the background, making life comfortable for those few. This is the subject of Roma, a film set in Mexico City with original screenplay written in Spanish. Roma takes one of those hardworking people and brings her front and center.

Cleo is the housekeeper of a middle-class family in the 1970s. She cleans the house, cleans the dog poo off the house entrance, brings the family tea, and serves them at mealtime. Cleo comes across as diligent, hardworking, sweet, shy, non-demanding, and loving. The children seem to adore her. She is a constant in their lives, and they treat her as one would expect a person who demands or expects nothing in return. At times, she’s like wallpaper. Other times, they are affectionate with her and desire her attention.

There isn’t much plot to this movie. Cleo does have some romantic adventures and deals with an unexpected pregn…