Book Review: ‘The Amazing Mind of Alice Makin’ by Alan Shea

Book Title: The Amazing Mind of Alice Makin

Author: Alan Shea

Genre: Historical Fiction / Magic Realism

Summary: In the bleak post-war landscape of 1940s London, Alice’s imagination brings colour and excitement to the old bomb sites and rubble-littered streets. Yet in the company of her new friend Reggie, the imagination that drives her stories and provides them with entertainment becomes more real, and what is imagined becomes reality.

Favourite Scene: When Alice imagines the local bullies getting stuck in bubble gum – there is a gorgeous childish aspect to the humour that I found endearing!

Favourite Character: Norman – his imagination might not turn real, but it was so real for him (and Alice’s perspective indulged this) that I couldn’t help but remember playing with friends and anything – through our imaginations – was possible. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer now …

Review: There were, without a doubt, some gorgeous aspects to this novel. The characters are children – not teenagers wanting to be adults, but children who want to play and enjoy themselves. This is a childhood when old tins are full of treasures and the neighbours look out for them. The nostalgia for childhood is obvious in the narration – the innocence of a child, the power of the imagination, the desire to belong – which I found irritating at times because I saw it as cliché. While the plot was slow-moving and the ending very rushed and abrupt (please don’t tell me there’s a sequel … you know how I feel about sequels for the sake of sequels), the children and their imagined games and adventures were thoroughly enjoyable. I would be interested to know a child’s perspective of the book, as I feel my opinions around representations of childhood have given me bias against the novel. I simply cannot rave about The Amazing Mind of Alice Makin, but I can say that Norman is adorable!

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