Luke and Jon – Robert Williams

A few people suggested that Luke and Jon might make the Booker long list and so I tried to squeeze it in before the announcement. Unfortunately it didn’t make the cut, but I’m really pleased that I read it as it was a fantastic book.

Luke and Jon is an engaging, but depressing novella. The book begins with the death of Luke’s mother and so we see how a child copes with bereavement. It was moving, but heartwarming to see him slowly accept the tragedy and then blossom into an independent person.

When I dreamt about Mum it was different. It would be simple everyday things. We would be walking through town on a Saturday morning, on our way to the butcher’s, or we would be in a supermarket and I would try to sneak more chocolate into the trolley and she would catch me and make me put it back on the shelf. Every last dull detail, every sound rang true, everything exactly as it was a few months before. That’s what made the mornings so horrible.

Luke is helped on his journey by becoming friends with Jon, a strange boy with his own secrets. The book is very short so it is hard to explain the plot without giving anything away. All I can say is that this book deals with themes of bereavement and bullying. The length and simplicity of the prose would make it an ideal book to initiate discussions on these topics with teenagers, but this isn’t a YA book. It is a book that will appeal to all ages.

The intense emotion of the book reminded me of Beside the Sea, but I found that the vaguely hopeful ending of Luke and Jon lessened the powerful impact. I guess that this is because novellas are too short to develop a plot that is complex enough to satisfy my needs and so I rely on raw emotion to affect me. This emotion was abundant in the first half of the book, but as Luke began to cope with the loss of his mother the impact was lessened. Am I weird for preferring a book that is desperately tragic?

Recommended if you enjoy emotional books.

26 replies on “Luke and Jon – Robert Williams”

Amy, I didn’t think it was quite as good as Beside the Sea, but I think fans of one will enjoy the other. They are both well written, dark novellas. I hope that you enjoy? it if you decide to read it.

Natalie, I didn’t need the tissues for this one, but I can see how someone (especially the recently bereaved?) might. There are a lot of touching scenes. Poor Luke – I just want to give him a big hug!

Sandy, Sorry to hear that you couldn’t find Beside the Sea, but I’m not sure it is out in the US yet. Hopefully it will make it over to you soon.

What a great book. I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Williams story, Luke & John. Robert Williams writes in clear and heartfelt prose which is a delight to read. Williams explores what is means to be an outsider in a sometimes hostile world and you are constantly rooting for the underdog in this excellent young peoples novel. Great that your blog appreciates this book!

Media Books, It is great to hear another person raving about this book! Hopefully a few more people will be praising it by the end of the year. 🙂

I don’t mind tragic if I am in the right mindset. I think this one would affect me more since I have a son and would be imagining him as one of the boys.

Kathleen, Luke is older than my sons and so I didn’t imagine him as one of mine – perhaps that is another reason Beside the Sea affected me much more (I have 2 sons exactly that age) I’d be interested to know if you found yourself imagining Luke as your son.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott devastated me in a very satisfactory way 🙂 I’m adding both Luke and Jon and By the Sea to my ever-growing wishlist.

Thanks for your reviews.

When I saw this compared to Beside the Sea I knew I had to read it. I don’t mind a heartbreaking story every once in a while. Unlike you, I have a feeling I don’t think I would mind a less tragic ending.

Stacybuckeye, I guarantee that you will become fully engaged with the characters in this book within 3 pages – it is so emotional that it is impossible not to connect with them.

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