Beck recounts the story of a biracial orphan who lives in a constant state of upheaval. After being transferred from one horrible orphanage to one horrible monastery, Beck seeks solace as a drifter—taking odd jobs as they come, and eating only enough not to starve. Like Peet's other works, Beck endures and transforms in many ways over the course of his life: although the story begins during Beck's dark childhood, the novel concludes in his uncertain adult years—right as he discovers love. Yet the long arc of Beck's existence is punctuated by memories better erased than kept, moments that readers will question and ponder long after his story's end. Sophisticated readers familiar with Peet, fans of historical fiction, and readers of all ages prepared for complex emotions and adult themes will embrace Beck as one of the best books of the year. — Aubrey Restifo
From Carnegie Medal-winning author Mal Peet comes a sweeping coming-of-age adventure, both harrowing and life-affirming. Born of a brief encounter between a Liverpool prostitute and an African soldier in 1907, Beck finds himself orphaned as a young boy and sent overseas to the Catholic Brothers in Canada. At age fifteen he is sent to work on a farm, from which he eventually escapes. Finally in charge of his own destiny, Beck starts westward, crossing the border into America and back, all while the Great Depression rages on. What will it take for Beck to understand the agonies of his childhood and realize that love is possible?
About the Author
Mal Peet (1947-2015) was a critically acclaimed and award-winning writer. Besides his young-adult fiction, he wrote several illustrated books for younger children with his wife, Elspeth Graham. Meg Rosoff is the author of How I Live Now, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award. She also received the Carnegie Medal and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and was named a National Book Award Finalist. Meg Rosoff completed Mal Peet's unfinished novel, a promise she made him before he died. She lives in London.