I don't know about you, but I just love a happy ending. Over the years I've read far too many books, including those for children, that end as badly as they started. So I was delighted to recently read David McRobbie's Vinnie's War.
Vinnie is an orphan who has nothing and as a result faces daily complex challenges. During the war he is evacuated along with a lot of other children, from the London he knows to a country village he doesn't. And there he is forced to get to know new people. Some of them aren't all that enthusiastic about his arrival so Vinnie has to face a whole lot of new challenges.
But Vinnie has a certain amount of luck on his side, and he's resilient. Eventually he not only meets those challenges, he exceeds everyone's expectations including his own. It's a truly uplifting story.
Reading Vinnie's War got me thinking about other books I've read where children, particularly boys, have faced adversity due to either being orphans or being removed from their families. Their circumstances are dire, but somehow they have the strength of spirit to face their challenges and make a success of themselves.
Two such titles immediately come to mind, both of which stand proudly on my bookcase. The Ship Kings: The Coming of the Whirlpool by Australian Miles Franklin winner Andrew McGahan, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the brilliant graphic novel by Brian Selznick. The first is set in a mysterious magical land where the people live and die on the water. The second is set in a railway station in Paris. They couldn't be more different, but I really felt for both Dow Amber and Hugh Cabret as they faced their challenges, and I celebrated with them when their lives finally took a turn for the better.
I know authors have different motives for writing; some want to educate us, some want to help us escape to exotic or unusual places. Others want to make us laugh or cry, and still others want to imprint a message upon our hearts. But personally, I like a book that has a bit of everything ... including a happy ending. What about you?