Sunday, July 12, 2020

Goggle-Eyes by Anne Fine





1990

Kitty’s classmate comes to school with red eyes. She has been crying and is still clearly upset. She runs out of the classroom and Kitty is sent after her to see that she is all right. The girls spend a long time in a cupboard as Helen tells Kitty that she is upset because her mother has acquired a new partner whom she does not like and Kitty comforts her with her own story about a similar situation she has experience..

Goggle-eyes, aka Gerald Faulkner is her own mother’s new partner. He obtains the name because of the way he looks at Rosalind, Kitty’s mother, when she wears an outfit that he has asked her to put on.  Kitty thinks he’s treating her mother like a Barbie doll.   

There are many shades of grey here which may challenge the target reader who still sees the world in black and white. The reader is in fact invited to find Goggle-eyes sympathetic before Kitty herself realises that there is more to him than she had at first thought.

He is very different form her mother but perhaps they complement each other.
Rosalind and Kitty have some common ground: they are against nuclear weapons and quite a big part of the novel is taken up with an activist event at a nuclear submarine base. Goggle-eyes presents an opposite maybe equally valid opinion and invites the young reader into the debate.

The text is a little dated: there are no mobile phones and the nuclear arms consideration isn’t perhaps our main priority today. Yet broken marriages and parents acquiring new partner is a challenge for young people that persists.

This is quite a short book though the chapters are long.            

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