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.