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The Seeing – Diana Hendry

“The pills don’t help. It’s been three weeks now and every night it’s the same. I’m trying to stop it all happening and I can’t. The fire’s eating up the whole beach. Even the sea can’t put it out, can’t even reach it. It’s as if the sea sees the flames streaking the sky in a hellish mix of red, orange, yellow – and draws back, afraid.”

Lizzie is a child of war. Whilst the war is over, things in the 50’s are still on edge and there are still many people reflecting on what war meant for her small town, Norton. Things rarely change in Norton but when Natalie blows in Lizzie is determined to make friends with the girl. Wild and unusual there is no messing with Natalie and she shuns most, except Lizzie. The two become inseparable and when Natalie confides in Lizzie about her dark theory and her little brothers strange gift, Lizzie can’t wait to join in Natalie’s plans – no matter how dangerous. Thus begins a summer of secrets, stories and anger, things that Lizzie feels she is trapped in and cannot get away from.

This was a dark, chilling tale about love, loss and just how much pain can affect one person. The Seeing is a short story, but by no means a light one. 
Following one summer, three children and an artist, The Seeing tells the tale of Lizzie, Natalie, Philip and Hugo and just how love and pain can cause a dangerous reaction when banded together. The story is sad, and thats really the only way to describe it. There is a lot of pain caused and a lot of pain present and whilst Lizzie is a breath of fresh air throughout the book, she is also effected by the pain. The summer Natalie comes to Norton she is on the cusp, she is no longer a child but not yet a young adult, its a confusing time for anyone but mixed with her mothers alcoholism, ‘uncles’ who come and goe and Philips problems she is torn about what she can do about anything. She loves Philip but takes her pain out on him because as we all know, it is easy to take your pain out on those closest to you. 
The story really made you think about life, about how everyone is different and experiences different things. Due to the setting of the book you also think about the history associated with certain parts of England and just how much effect the War had on people. The time period is fascinating because there was a great deal of change going on with money, jobs and power. I loved the focus on the children and the artists relationship with them but I would have loved to know more about Lizzie’s world, where her parents’ money came from and just what her father was doing, though it wouldn’t have made much difference to the story so maybe I should stop wishing for fillers! 
The characters within The Seeing were amazingly powerful and I loved just how alive they felt. The artist, through his letters to his sister and his relationship to Philip in particular, was clearly a lovely man who had to deal with a lot of pain himself. He focussed that pain into his paintings and drawings and learned to deal with it in a way you could only hope Natalie could. Natalie herself was like a whirlwind and you just knew reading the book that she would be forced to a stop at some point, it was just hard to see where and how. Philip was such a sweet character that I wanted to help him, its no wonder Hugo took a shining to him because it was obvious he needed saving, he needed looking after and no one was really doing it, Natalie tried but she was just a child herself and couldn’t do much as she couldn’t see through her pain. Lizzie was naive and especially towards the beginning of the book it was clear she was looking for a bit of adventure, to make her boring Norton more exciting, she learnt some valuable lessons during the course of that summer and it was clear just how much they’d stay with her for years to come. 
This book was amazingly powerful and I have a feeling it will stay with me for a long, long time. I am trying my hardest not to give anything away as I just want people to read The Seeing, without any preconceptions, without thinking too much about what could happen, its a brilliant book to just dive into but be warned that its not a quick, light read and you will need time to process its contents! Its no wonder it was shortlisted for the Costa book award and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on other award shortlists. Diana Hendry is definitely an author I’ll be keeping an eye out for. 

The Seeing was published on 4th July by Corgi Children’s books. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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  • Cicely

    I’ve had a copy of this lying around for a while now and never really thought that it was much more than a ghost story, but it actually sounds like a lot more than it seems. Might actually read it now! Great review 🙂

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