Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Review - Letters to Leonardo / Dee White

Summary - A unique and powerful story about a fifteen year old boy who tries to deal with his mother’s mental illness by writing letters to Leonardo da Vinci.
On his fifteenth birthday, Matt receives a card from his mother - the mother he grew up believing was deceased. Feeling betrayed by both his parents, Matt’s identity is in disarray and he begins writing letters to Leonardo da Vinci as a way to sort out the ‘mess’ in his head. Through the connections he makes between his own life and that of Leonardo, Matt unravels the mystery that his life has become and discovers his mother’s secrets and the reasons behind his abandonment.

Review -Looking for Leonardo is the debut writing effort from Australian author, Dee White. Compelled by his school project on Leonardo da Vinci and a letter from a mother he believed to be deceased, Matt starts poking and prodding into his previously predictable life to get to the truth.

Dee White has managed to integrate the great Renaissance artist into a contemporary, Australian boy's life with some surprising correlations. She's obviously done her homework! The use of the intersperced letters wasn't always a hundred percentage successful but it was a device allowed Matt's thoughts and feelings free reign. Matt is such a present character, the reader is never at a loss to his true feelings. The themes of redemption, hope and forgiveness were treated realistically and were delightfully frustrating as a result. While many readers might gravitate towards the relationship between Matt and his mother, I found the see-sawing of his connection with his father to be more intriguing. Matt's father's dependence on the Sons and the Single Parent tome was chuckle-worthy, his anger and concern over his ex-wife's intrusion in their existence understandable but some further development would have been great.

White's exploration of mental illness, parent/teen dynamics, the strength of friendship, hope and forgiveness. Ultimately this is a novel about family and how much our parent's influence, whether present or absent, affect our perspective and dreams.

A thought provoking read.

Published: July 2009
Format: Paperback, 246 pages
Published: Walker Books
Origin: Australia
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Shooting Stars Mag said...

Nice review. I saw this on a few other blogs and it sounds really good. I like the idea of writing letters to Leonardo.


Thao said...

I knew this book would be something. It looked and sounded so good.