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Review: When We Were Romans

September 28, 2008

When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale is told from the perspective of 9 year old Lawrence.  He lived in England with his mother, Hannah, and his sister, Jemima.  Lawrence’s parents were divorced and his mother thought his father was spying on them and breaking into their cottage.  So, Hannah packed Lawrence and Jemima up and headed to Rome, where she’d lived before she was married.  While the three of them are there, things began to unravel and the reader realizes that Hannah is mentally ill before Lawrence does.  Lawrence wrote:

Mum changed so quickly, one moment she was all fine and then it was like a big ray just shon [sic] on her and made her go wrong. 

Lawrence believed everything his mother was telling him and tried to help and protect her.  He was forced to take a role he was too young for.  This book shows how children are affected when they have a mentally ill parent.  

I wanted to love this book, but ended up liking it. The book drew me in very quickly and finished with a bang, but I felt like the middle dragged some.  Since it was told from Lawrence’s perspective, it was loaded with misspellings and I have to admit they bothered me.  The cover of this book is a delight, though. I read this book for the Fall into Reading Challenge.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2008 9:32 am

    I’m glad to hear that you liked this book. I started reading it and couldn’t get into it. It may have been the misspellings or tone of the book. I may try reading it again or will pass it on to a friend to review on my blog.

  2. September 28, 2008 1:27 pm

    I’m glad you were able to enjoy this book, even though I couldn’t get into it (and, unwilling to bother with it again, I’ve already Bookcrossed it in the hopes that someone who can enjoy it like you did will find it).

  3. September 28, 2008 3:32 pm

    Kathy, this one is in my TBR stack. That’s interesting about the misspellings. I agree with you that the cover is very appealing.

  4. September 28, 2008 4:07 pm

    The spelling errors would drive me insane! It would have to be a stellar book for me to get past the intentional errors. I know it’s a literary device, but my inner proofreader would be dying to mark up the text!

  5. September 28, 2008 10:00 pm

    Kathy – this is on my TBR shelf as well. It’ll be interesting to see how I react to the misspellings … I couldn’t stand the *Junie B. Jones* series when my daughter read it, with all the misspellings and grammatical errors!

    I’m hoping I can see it as a character trait (and I’ll be more forgiving since the author is writing for an adult audience, not a child who thinks “she teached me” is correct since she read it in a book!)

  6. September 29, 2008 11:36 am

    I decided not to read this book, but I’m glad you enjoyed it! It seems like there are a lot of mixed reviews.

  7. September 29, 2008 8:39 pm

    This book sounds interesting, but I think the misspellings would bother me, too.

  8. September 29, 2008 9:15 pm

    This was a book I seemed to ‘appreciate’ more than really enjoy. I never felt connected to Lawrence, probably due to his age.

  9. September 29, 2008 9:52 pm

    Yeah, I like the cover too : ) I’ve never heard of it

  10. September 30, 2008 12:39 am

    This one has been on my wish list. I appreciate your review, I like to know the good and the bad. I’m going to keep this one on my wish list, the way I spell I most likely wouldn’t even notice the mistakes. 😀

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