“Nothing prepares one for the discovery that there are people who have no conscience.”

On September 15th, the Central Library Brown Baggers discussed The Boy in the Field, published in 2020, the ninth and latest novel by Scottish-born writer Margot Livesey. Set in a small town near Oxford, England, the story begins when three siblings discover a boy, later identified as Karel Lustig, hurt (stabbed & bleeding), alone in a field when they are walking home from school. They summon help for the boy and in doing so are told they saved his life. But what happened, why, and who committed this violent crime is what the Lang siblings (and the reader) want to find out. In addition, the book also explores the aftermath and impact of this trauma on the three adolescents and how it changes their lives and jolts them to new awareness.

The novel is laid out in chapters told from the three kids’ points of view. Matthew, the oldest, is focused on finding the assailant; Zoe, the middle child, wants to find someone who truly sees her; and Duncan, the youngest, wants to find his birth mother. In the process, they also uncover  a significant family secret and the difference between secrets and lies. All three also have a different interpretation of the one word Karel utters while they wait with him for help to arrive.

With one exception, our readers really liked the book and found it remarkably on point. Discussion focused on whether the kids’ reaction to the trauma they experienced was more important than the mystery of what happened to Karel in the field.  

We also debated whether the final chapter, “The Degree Show,” set eight and a half years later, was even necessary.  

This being the first book many had read by Livesey, we all agreed we’d be on the lookout for her other titles at the Fall Friends of the Library Book sale, coming up October 15th-23rd at the Albemarle Square Shopping Center. Member-only preview night is Friday October 14th, and you can become a member ($20) at the door! 

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