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.

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  1. Amy says:

    Wow. Comparing it to Beside the Sea is big, I’ll add it to my wish list. Sounds interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      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.

  2. Jessica says:

    I think Id like it – beside the sea practically traumatised my husband as he hates stuff like that.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, I can see how Beside the Sea (and Luke and Jon) could traumatise people. There isn’t a lot of happiness in either book.

  3. This sounds amazing and the passage you selected was really touching. I will pick this one up as well, but will make sure to have a box of tissue at the ready.

    1. Jackie says:

      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!

  4. Sandy says:

    I can do tragic, in the hands of the right author. I tried to find Beside the Sea at my library and they didn’t have it. I may need to try again.

    1. Jackie says:

      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.

  5. Media Books says:

    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!

    1. Jackie says:

      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. :-)

  6. Book sounds fantastic, and I echo Natalie : the passage you selected is incredibly touching.

    Hopefully, I’ll join you guys praising it sometime soon :)

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, I look forward to finding out if you enjoy it as much as I did. :-)

  7. Kathleen says:

    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.

    1. Jackie says:

      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.

  8. Melissa says:

    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.

    1. Jackie says:

      Melissa, I haven’t heard of Living Dead Girl, but I’ve just added it to my ever-growing wishlist!! :-) Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Jenny says:

    You are not weird but you are very very different from me. :p When a book is unrelentingly tragic, I strongly wish that the tragedy would, er, relent.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, LOL! Well if you like relenting tragedy then you might love this book!

  10. Teddy says:

    This really sounds like a refreshing change for literary fiction. Thanks for bringing my attention to it. I added it to my TBR.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teddy, It is reasonably different from other books I’ve read. I hope that you enjoy it :-)

  11. Iris says:

    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.

    1. Jackie says:

      Iris, I look forward to seeing what you make of it :-)

  12. stacybuckeye says:

    Novellas are tough for me because it is so hard to fully become engaged with the characters. This one looks good though.

    1. Jackie says:

      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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