The Burying Beetle by Ann Kelley

Gussie is a 12 year-old girl.

Her parents are divorced and Gussie’s mother has moved the two of them to a cottage on the outskirts of St Ives on the North Coast of Cornwall. She hopes that the milder Cornish climate and the better air quality will help Gussie’s health.

Because Gussie has a congenital heart defect. Her life expectancy isn’t great, but a heart and lung transplant offers some hope, if only a match can be found.

Gussie’s life is constricted, because she is quickly short of breath and she can’t go to school for fear of picking up an everyday illness that would compromise her heart.

It could be depressing, but it really isn’t.

Because Gussie is wonderfully alive, her thoughts dashing here and there, because there really is so much to take in, so much to think about.

Her head is full of films and books. And she observes the world around her, and in time the everyday wonders of nature that she sees but so many people miss captivate her, even pushing those films and books to one side.

It was wonderful to spend time with her.

Not too much happens, but that really doesn’t matter. Gussie observes the day-to-day details of life beautifully, and that, together with her cares and concerns, paints a wonderfully rich, complex picture of her inner life.

What this is, you see, is a quite beautifully written meditation on the importance of the small details of life, and the ordinary things that are actually so very special.

This is a book packed full of so many wonderful thoughts, sights and incidents. And it’s a book with the power to touch your heart and soul, and to make you look at the world a little differently.

I am so glad I met Gussie, and I am not quite ready to let her go.

Fortunately there are sequels …

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