Speed of Light
Publisher: Gecko Press
Jeff is a nine. That's because the letters in his name add up to nine using numerology - Eddie the gardener is a nine too. It's a sign he's a good person. Jeff's father Winston is a six, his sister Andrea a seven and mother Helen an eight. Absent brother Beckett is a three - it doesn't fit in with the rest of the family sequence but as a prime number he's an integral part of nine. Jeff loves the power of numbers and the way the universe around him is safe in a sequence of hidden digits, but when a freak storm brings the mysterious Maisie into the Lorimers' lives their world starts unravelling.
Joy Cowley is a brilliant writer and thankfully the tremendous Gecko Press continue to share her stories with us. Jeff is a charming character and his unchangeable love for his brother and sister despite their mistakes feels genuine and heartfelt; his love for maths, the generosity he feels for his friends when they score well at school and the friendship he forms with the help at home are sincere and thoughtful. His recognition of his parent's foolishness is a striking acknowledgment - never reduced to juvenile frustrations, he truly is the 'glue in the family', and with a brother in prison, a sister with two boyfriends and parents on the brink of bankruptcy they will need a lot of help to stick together. The invasion of Maisie is mysterious and magical, inviting questions that aren't necessarily resolved but it doesn't really matter; Cowley's writing is a delight to read and this family drama is engrossing and endearing.