Review: Here in the Real World


Book Title: Here in the Real World (available here)

Author: Sara Pennypacker

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: Feb 2020

Most Suitable For: Upper KS2

Reviewed By: Anna Sterling

By the best-selling author of Pax, this book is another emotional but heart-warming story by Sara Pennypacker. Centered around an eleven-year-old boy’s struggle for acceptance, the story takes place over the summer holidays, a period when an only child can feel the most alone - especially when his parents work double shifts and his only carer finds herself in hospital.

With his friends away too, Ware, a quiet boy by nature, finds himself being sent to summer ‘rec’, a run-down day camp for children that only suits those who are gregarious and less imaginative than himself. Naturally, his desire for escape leads him to discover the ruins of a church in the next lot, and there starts a transformation in not just his understanding of the world, but also about himself. With his love for medieval knights and lore to guide him, his imagination starts to create a world from the rubble - his own castle - complete with moat. But it is not that easy as there is another child, Jolene, who is also using the space for her own purpose. Both characters have one thing in common – that the real world is there to let them down, but can they find what they are looking for in their time at the lot?


The story and characters' relationship progresses as the end of the summer is drawing to a close, along with the impending clearance of the lot. Ware continues to struggle with his role ‘here, in the real world,’ until inheriting a camera starts a transformative chain of events for Ware as he starts to film the world around him.


This is a heartwarming story suitable for upper KS2, and the reader cannot feel anything but uplifted by 'misfit' Ware’s moving journey of transformation.

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You can order Here in the Real World online or from your local bookshop or library.



Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Anna for reviewing it.



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