John Martin Conway is a seventh grade scholarship kid in a rich prep school where his mother works as a secretary. He feels out of place and hates the school and the great-grandson of the school’s founder, Hank Lowery. After a fight at the school he retreats into his basement room to do independent study and brood.
Then his grandmother dies and leaves him an old WWII-era radio, which he begins listening to while doing research on the Blitz in London. The radio acts as a conduit for time travel and Martin finds himself sitting in London during the Blitz with a boy named Jimmy, who has things to show him. Jimmy turns out to be a ghost who needs something from Martin in order to be at peace.
Back in his own time, Martin researches more and more about the Blitz and the people he met while with Jimmy. He finds out things about his much-glorified grandfather as well as Hank Lowery that aren’t what is believed about either of them. As he shuttles back and forth in time, Martin comes into his own. He discovers a love of history, finds closeness with his sister, learns much, grows, and comes to terms with his father’s alcoholism.
London Calling, nominated as suitable for grades 6-9, is a story of old secrets, a murder mystery, a story of redemption, of loss and of growing up, with all its pain and angst. It’s provocative and engaging as well as an extremely interesting read. It’s one of those books that will send the reader off to find more on that subject. I love books like that, the ones that intrigue you so much that it leads to more and more reading.
The story has a very personal and real feel to it. The characters are well developed and the mystery about just what Hank Lowery and Martin’s grandfather were up to in London had me eagerly turning the pages to find out. I hadn’t read Edward Bloor before and London Calling made me a fan. I’ve added his other works to my list of books to buy.