The Week At World’s End by Emma Carroll

Publication Date: 2 September 2021 (HB) 3 March 2022 (PB)

The Blurb

Britain, 1962

‘Who are you?’ I asked.
‘You don’t know who I am? You mean, it’s not been on the news?’
The girl glanced from Ray to me and back again.
‘It’s better I don’t tell you,’ she said firmly.

Nothing ever happens in World’s End Close. So when Stevie discovers a runaway girl in her coal shed, the first thing she does is fetch her best friend, Ray. Both are dying for a bit of adventure, and when the girl begs for help, they readily agree.

Yet they soon realise they’ve taken on more than they bargained for. The girl, Anna, reveals she’s on the run from people who are trying to poison her. Meanwhile, on the news, the Americans and Russians are arguing over missiles in Cuba.

As the threat of war grows, Anna’s behaviour becomes more mysterious. And when Stevie unearths a dark family secret, she wonders if Anna has come to World’s End Close on purpose, with a special message just for her…

The Review

Friendship, family and fear for the future are woven together to create a gripping story. Tension grows steadily as we adventure with Stevie and Ray through the week that was the Cuban Missile Crisis. A week where the world was on the brink of a war that no one could win.

Emma brings the world as it was in Britain in 1962 to life – a world of Mods and Rockers, new household appliances and the dreaded cane. With news focused on America, we not only see the Cold War at work, but the American Civil Rights Movement and peaceful protest brought to the fore. And that is just the backdrop to their adventure!

Stevie, Ray and Anna are all carefully crafted, each with their own distinct voice and characterisations. I love how they draw strength from each other and help each other to grow through their time together. Secrets are kept, nurtured and uncovered building the foundations of trust and lasting friendship. I also loved catching up with some familiar characters from earlier books too.

As the news from across the Atlantic worsens, we would do well to follow in the footsteps of these wise children and live life like there is no tomorrow. I shall say no more on this because, spoilers!

The history interwoven within the story is bound to spark curiosity and further research into the events and issues raised, not least the nuclear weapons testing undertaken after the Second World War and the work of Martin Luther King Junior.

Great for fans of:

Huge thanks to Faber Childrens and ReadingZone for sending me a review copy. This review was first published on ReadingZone, where you can find reviews of many fabulous children’s books and much more besides.

When this review was first published, I never imagined that we would once again watch news speculating over the use of nuclear weapons in a war. I stand with the people of Ukraine as they battle to save their country and their right to live in a democracy. And, I stand with every brave Russian who has protested against the senseless war being fought by their President.