The Graveyard Book – Week Three

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Dave McKean

HarperCollins, New York, 2008

From my book shelves.  Organized by Carl V, Week 3 of our read-along covers chapters 7 and 8 of Neil Gaiman’s Newbury, Carnegie, Hugo and Locus award-winning novel.   It has been a joy reading along with others and seeing their thoughts.  Please visit Carl’s blog for links to other posts about this deeply felt, wonderfully written book.

In Chapter 8 Silas is drawn away from The Graveyard but refuses to tell Bod where he is going or what he is doing.  Bod’s friend, Scarlett, returns from Glasgow and finds herself in a place that seems awfully familiar.  She is befriended by a nice man, Mr Frost, who takes rubbings of gravestones.   With his encouragement she  eventually discovers Bod’s family history, but this discovery has unintended results.

Bod finally learns about his past, about The Man Jack and his organization, and is faced with a difficult decision.  The choice he makes puts Scarlett in extreme danger and she cannot understand it and cannot forgive him for it.  He looses his friend, and is at a loss understanding why.

In Chapter 9 Bod enters young adulthood and begins to change, finding it harder and harder to see his friends and loved ones.  Eventually he must leave The Graveyard and journey into the wider world.

The Graveyard Book is all about growing up, be it in a normal family or a ghostly one.  We make choices, face the consequences and hopefully grow wiser with each of these steps.  If we are lucky we live in a circle of love, amid friends and family who support us, even when we make bad decisions.

Neil Gaiman states in his acknowledgements that he read Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book over and over as a child and as an adult.  This is a book I love and read-aloud to elementary-aged children.  I can see the resemblance, but Gaiman has created a world of his own, filled with wonderful, caring, sometimes strict beings who surround and support Bod as he grows and finally leaves his home.  Maybe someday we will learn about his adventures in the world of the living.

There is a balance between gentleness and horror in this book.  A balance Neil Gaiman holds brilliantly.

Thanks to Carl V and all the folks who took part in this read-along.


Filed under Books, Carnegie Award, DarkFantasy, Horror, Hugo Award, Locus Award, Newbury Award, R.I.P. VII, Read-Along, Thoughts, Young Adult

7 responses to “The Graveyard Book – Week Three

  1. This book has always made me want to read THE JUNGLE BOOK.

    And, I am likely in the minority on this, but I kind of hope Gaiman leaves Bod alone. :)

    • I don’t expect there is anything to worry about, Gaiman doesn’t seem to have made many efforts to revisit any of his previous novels. I don’t think he would be doing so with American Gods if it wasn’t for the tv series they are supposedly doing with it.

  2. I’m so glad you read along with us and enjoyed it. It is certainly much easier to go through these struggles in life amidst people who love you. I think it is great how more than once Gaiman uses the story to point out that we will make mistakes and that those who love us expect us to do that. They expect us to stumble and fall, to screw up and to need help. But they also look for us to succeed and triumph and make our mark on the world. I love that about the book.

    I agree with you so much about the balance that Neil strikes in this book. It is interesting to read it as an adult while also thinking about its impact on the young adult crowd it was written for. I think Gaiman has done something special here for all of the audiences for the book.

  3. I love that you talk about the balance between gentleness and horror in the book. It it such a hard line to walk but I think Gaiman does it beautifully. I think much of the power in the book lies in that balance. You feel protective of Bod, proud of him when he fights back, etc.

  4. Do you plan to read this book aloud to the school kids? I’m glad you enjoyed this book so much. It is one of my favorites.

    • No, I think it is written for older students, at least Middle School age. I know we have copies in our school library. I do love this one, and must finally get around to reading American Gods.

  5. A balance of gentleness and horror…very well-put! Without the gentleness this would be truly horrific, and without the horror it would just be soppy!

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